Found a book to get me out of my slump!
The name Hearst is well known throughout the world due in large part to William Randolph Hearst, the publishing giant, helping build America. His granddaughter, Patricia, made the Hearst name famous for an entirely different reason. In February 1974 Patricia was kidnapped by the Symbionese (made up word) Liberation Army from her apartment. Her fiance, Stephen Weed, told her kidnappers to “take anything” which permanently damaged their relationship.
The SLA was poorly run by Donald DeFreeze, who adopted the name Field Marshal Cinque, who tried to extort the kidnapping of Patty into notoriety, the release of two comrades from prison and a 300 million dollar food bank for the poor. The kidnapping sparked public interest immediately, it was the first high stakes kidnapping since the Lindberg baby, and news coverage continued for months.
After a few months Patty was given the option to join the SLA or go home. Patty, who had a contentious relationship with her mother, chose to stay and participate in a bank robbery.
“In this way, the Hearsts became the symbol of the overly lenient parents of the era and a counterpoint to the Republican administration’s voice of discipline and order.”
During an errand run with Bill and Emily Harris (an unhappy married couple) Patty shot at a store security officer who tried to arrest Bill for shoplifting. A trail of stolen cars led the police to the SLA headquarters which ended in a shootout between the SLA & the LAPD; eventually the house went down in flames. The Harrises and Patty watched their comrades burn to death on TV in a hotel near Disneyland. Patty and the Harrises went on the run for the next year, criss-crossing the country and getting an extraordinary amount of assistance from like-minded individuals. Patty even began a new relationship and settled into a semi-normal routine, albeit one that involved hiding from the law.
Eventually Patty, Bill and Emily were caught and arrested. Despite proudly proclaiming her occupation as “urban guerrilla,” Patty tried to spin her time as an SLA member as brainwashing. Before OJ Simpson, Patty Hearst was the “trial of the Century” (ironically, F. Lee Bailey participated in both); while she was convicted her sentence was communed by President Carter and she was pardoned by Bill Clinton. She married a cop, of all people, and her daughter is married to Chris Hardwick.
Toobin provides a well researched, unbiased account of the bizarre 22 months in the mid 1970s. He leaves no stone left unturned and provides a compelling narrative of the SLA & the Underground as well as the political climate that created them.
Drunk History offers their own version of Patty’s story, it’s funny but incredibly condensed.
“The story of Patricia Hearst, as extraordinary as it once was, had a familiar, even predictable ending. She did not turn into a revolutionary. She turned into her mother.”