Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Stephen Singular's "The Wichita Divide"

Stephen Singular, is a two-time New York Times bestselling author whose articles have appeared in New York Magazine, Psychology Today, Inside Sports, The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, and American Photo. From 1983 to 1987, he was a staff writer at The Denver Post and his first book, Talked To Death: The Life & Murder of Alan Berg (1987), was nominated for an Edgar Award. Since then, he’s published 18 more non-fiction books about high-profile crimes, social criticism, and business and sports biographies.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Wichita Divide: The Murder of Dr. George Tiller and the Battle over Abortion, and reported the following:
In 1987 I published Talked to Death, about the life and murder of Denver talk show host, Alan Berg. The Oliver Stone movie, Talk Radio, is based in part on this book. That story described how nine, obviously-fanatical neo-Nazis plotted to kill Berg and launch a white power revolution, designed to rid America of minorities. For the past decade, I’ve wanted to revisit this subject because disturbing pieces of the mindset -- the anger, fear, and blame -- of those who assassinated Berg have gradually crept from the fringes of our society into the mainstream. On May 31, 2009, when abortion doctor George Tiller was gunned down by Scott Roeder inside his Kansas church, I began researching the follow-up book.

The Wichita Divide: The Murder of Dr. George Tiller and the Battle Over Abortion is really about the new American civil war that’s infected our country for roughly the past four decades. It’s about how deeply personal issues, especially sexual issues like reproduction, have been used to demonize entire segments of the population. And about how this has been driven not by nine fanatics, but by corporate media, major religions, and leaders at the highest levels of government. The first sentence on page 99 clearly reflects this theme: “In addition to the ongoing death threats [to the physician], the efforts to close Tiller’s clinic were moving into mainstream politics. Since Roe v. Wade, Kansas had placed only minor restrictions on late-term abortions, but that was changing…”

The book’s narrative focuses on the lives of two families, Dr. Tiller’s and Scott Roeder’s, and describes how both were trapped inside this war and experienced their own tragedies. I’ve tried to show the heart and the cost of this war, mostly through the eyes of Roeder’s ex-wife, Lindsey, who found out first-hand what it’s like to marry a relatively “normal” man and watch him turn into an American terrorist.

When people at the very top of society sanction hatred in a public way, it filters down to those not only less fortunate, but sometimes to those who are emotionally unstable. Then violence becomes not just likely, but virtually predictable. And then, when it’s too late, the haters claim they had nothing to do with the bloodshed and run for the hills…Whether we want to be or not, we’re all involved in this war.
Learn more about the book and author at Stephen Singular's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue