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Synopsis

The long-awaited second volume of the first-ever English-language study of the Red Army Faction (RAF)—West Germany’s most notorious urban guerillas—covers the period immediately following the organization’s near total decimation in 1977. During this period, the RAF was in a state of regrouping and attempting to renew its ties to the radical left in response to the emergence of a new radical youth movement in the Federal Republic, the Autonomen. This reorganization was evidenced by the shifting of focus from freeing prisoners to fighting NATO. By examining communiqués and texts from 1978 up until the 1982 May Paper, the broader movement is examined and the possibilities and perils of an armed underground organization are contrasted to the more fluid and flexible practice of the revolutionary cells at that time. The history of the 2nd of June Movement (2JM), an eclectic guerilla group with its roots in West Berlin, is also evaluated, especially in light of the split that led to some 2JM members officially disbanding the organization and rallying to the RAF. Finally, the RAF’s relationship to the East German Stasi is examined, as is the abortive attempt by West Germany’s liberal intelligentsia to defuse the armed struggle during Gerhard Baum’s tenure as Minister of the Interior. Dancing with Imperialism will be required reading for students of the first world guerilla, those with interest in the history of European protest movements, and all who wish to understand the challenges of revolutionary struggle.

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