How a Neo-Nazi race war novel from 1978 helped inspire the Capitol insurrection

The Turner Diaries, a neo-Nazi race-war novel from 1978 that has long been influential in right-wing extremist circles, helped fuel the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to one prominent historian who studies white supremacy and political violence.

Appearing on the Daily Beast's "Fever Dreams" podcast this week, University of Chicago assistant professor of history Kathleen Belew noted that the book, The Turner Diaries, even includes a fictional attack on the Capitol.

"Please don't go buy this book. The money can still go back to white power groups if you do," Belew said. "It's the book that's very important to Timothy McVeigh before the Oklahoma City bombing. And it's come back up around January 6th. We have footage of Proud Boys instructing journalists to go read The Turner Diaries."

Among other things, Belew said a noose and makeshift gallows erected outside the Capitol during the insurrection was a possible reference the The Turner Diaries, which includes a story about "The Day of the Rope."

The New York Times first reported on links between The Turner Diaries and the Capitol insurrection in January, when Amazon removed the book from its site.

"A group of white supremacists attacks the Capitol in an effort to overthrow the U.S. government," the Times wrote, describing the book's plot. "Dozens are killed in the assault, including members of Congress and their staffers. But in the insurrectionists' view, the greater victory is symbolic."

The NYT called the book "one of the most influential texts among white nationalists and right-wing extremists," adding that in addition to the Oklahoma City bombing, it has inspired dozens of other acts of violence over the years, and serves as a blueprint for how to enact an insurrection.

"The narrative, presented as found diary entries, follows white people who form terrorist cells and start a race war," the NYT reported. "The attacks they launch include a bombing of F.B.I. headquarters, a mortar attack on the Capitol and 'the Day of the Rope,' in which 'race traitors' are lynched, including 'the politicians, the lawyers, the businessmen, the TV newscasters, the newspaper reporters and editors, the judges, the teachers, the school officials, the civic leaders, the bureaucrats, the preachers.' Eventually, the group takes control of the United States and carries out genocide on a global scale. ...

"Scholars and historians have expressed concern about the book's availability in the United States," the Times reported. "As more social media networks crack down on hate speech and calls to violence, some extremists may turn to books as a way to spread their ideology."

Listen to the Fever Dreams podcast below.