Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Sharon Darby Hendry: Soliah: The Sara Jane Olson Story
Author: Sharon Darby Hendry.
Title: Soliah: The Sara Jane Olson Story.
Publication: Minneapolis (Bloomington): Cable, 2002.
ISBN 1-893088-35-9. 367 pages, Paper with extensive forewords and illustrations, with 16 pages in roman numerals of detailed introduction.
This is the biography of Kathleen Soliah, who was part of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) in the 1970s, She was indicted for participation in bank robberies by fled and assumed an alias, married, and lived in Minnesota until her arrest in 1999, followed by extradition to California, a recanted guilty plea (after 9/11) and eventual sentencing.
Ms. Hendry discussed this book at a Writers Conference in Minneapolis in the Summer of 2002, as an example of a self-published book. She indicate that she had difficulty getting some book columnists to review self-published books. But the presentation is quite professional: interesting red and white cover with a picture
The early part of the book gives valuable history of the extreme Left in its resistance to the Vietnam war, including the draft, and the extreme indignant moralism of the Left, which led it into terrorism, where it used very blunt tactics to attack the "decadent capitalist rich." It was determined to force a "cultural revolution" by expropriation and force. The determination of the SLA to forcibly “right the wrongs of the world” in the left-wing sense that some people get what they have by “exploiting” the labor or poverty of others is very clear, and this shows up in connection to the whole draft deferment and Vietnam issue. Their ideas make an interesting comparison to more conventional ideas of morality, as well as to the ideology of today's radical Islam, which bears a collective resentment from a religious rather than economic source. The book mentions a couple of left-wing "manifestos" authored by SLA members. The word "manifesto" (sometimes applied to my own first DADT tome) has become a bit of a pejorative.
The book goes into detail about the Patty Hearst kidnapping (Hearst's autobiography is called Every Secret Thing (1982), co-written with Alvin Moscow.)
It would have been incredible to live for over twenty years in hiding, an exemplary "selfless" life as a soccer mom in some many volunteer efforts, and know that any day there could be a knock at the door. The account of her freedom is rather brief, but the details of her prosecution and politics of the plea bargaining are quite detailed. Her "egolessness" was her undoing.
Update: March 21, 2008
Sara Jane Olson has been released on parole. The story by Daisy Nguyen is "Ex-SLA Member Freed From Calif. Prison," link here.
March 23: The latest now is that this was an error, that Olson is back in prison, and cannot be released until 2009 (NBC4 in Washington).