The Turner Diaries

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The Turner Diaries
Author William Luther Pierce (pseudonym Andrew Macdonald)
Country United States
Language English
Series 1978
Genre Fiction
Publisher National Vanguard Books
Publication date 1978

The Turner Diaries is a novel written in 1978 by William Luther Pierce (former leader of the white nationalist organization National Alliance) under the pseudonym "Andrew Macdonald".[1] The Turner Diaries depicts a violent revolution in the United States which leads to the overthrow of the United States federal government, nuclear war, and, ultimately, to a race war leading to the extermination of all groups deemed by the author as impure such as Jews, gay people, and non-whites.[2] The book was called "explicitly racist and anti-Semitic" by The New York Times and has been labeled a "bible of the racist right" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.[3][4]

The novel has been associated with a number of real-life violent crimes committed by white separatists and other radicals. Two pages of the book containing a scene depicting preparation for the bombing of the J. Edgar Hoover Building, the FBI national headquarters, were found in the getaway car of Timothy McVeigh, the perpetrator of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.[5][6]

Plot summary[edit]

The narrative starts with a foreword set in 2099, one hundred years after the events depicted in the book. The bulk of the book then quotes a recently discovered diary of a man named Earl Turner, an active member of the white Aryan revolutionary movement that caused these events. The book details a violent overthrow of the United States federal government by Turner and his militant comrades and a brutal contemporaneous race war that takes place first in North America, and then the rest of the world.

The story starts soon after the federal government has confiscated all civilian firearms in the country under the fictional Cohen Act, and the Organization to which Turner and his cohorts belong goes underground and engages in guerrilla war against the System, which is depicted as the totality of the government, media, and economy that is under left-wing Jewish control.[2] The Organization starts with acts such as the bombing of FBI headquarters and continues to execute an ongoing, low level campaign of terrorism, assassination and economic sabotage throughout the United States. Turner's exploits lead to his initiation into the Order, a quasi-religious inner cadre that directs the Organization and whose existence remains secret to both the System and ordinary Organization members.[2]

Eventually, the Organization seizes physical control of Southern California, including the nuclear weapons at Vandenberg Air Force Base; ethnically cleanses the area of all blacks and summarily executes all Jews and other "race traitors".[2] The Organization's response to a white woman who had a black man as a lover is summary execution.[7] The Organization has little use for most white "mainstream" Americans. Those on the Left are seen as dupes or willing agents of the Jews, while conservatives and libertarians are regarded as misguided fools, for, after all, the Jews "took over according to the Constitution, fair and square." Turner and his comrades save their special contempt for the ordinary people, who care about nothing beyond being kept comfortable and entertained.

The Organization then uses both the Southern California base of operations and their nuclear weapons to open a wider war in which they launch nuclear strikes against New York City and Israel, initiate a nuclear exchange between the US and the Soviet Union, and plant nuclear weapons and new terrorist cells throughout North America. Many major U.S. cities are destroyed, including Baltimore and Detroit. The diary section ends with the protagonist flying an airplane equipped with an atomic bomb on a suicide mission to destroy The Pentagon, in order to eliminate the leadership of the remaining military government before it orders an assault to retake California. The novel ends with an epilogue summarizing how the Organization continued on to conquer the rest of the world and how people of other races were eliminated (China and the entire eastern half of Asia were destroyed by prolonged bombardment with various weapons of mass destruction and made into an enormous desert; Blacks were exterminated in Africa as well as America; Puerto Ricans, described as "a repulsive mongrel race", were exterminated and the island re-settled by whites).[2]

First and second editions[edit]

The Turner Diaries was first serialized in the mid 1970s in the National Alliance's tabloid paper, Attack!. The first printing in paperback was May 1978. Pierce originally set his story in the 1980s. Its reprinting (September 1980) took the form of a slightly altered second edition that moved the setting forward ten years. Although subsequent printings of The Turner Diaries have featured different cover art or back cover copy, they have kept to the second edition's text.

In keeping with the new 1990s time frame, events in the past are generally aged by ten years, though not always. Some examples:

  • Turner's diatribe about the "long string of Marxist acts of terror 10 to 15 years ago" is changed to "20 years ago."
  • Turner's lament at the success of the System's brainwashing "these past 50 years or so" remains unchanged.
  • The Order's "nearly 58 years of existence" is increased to 68, making the date of its founding 1925, a reference to the SS.
  • Turner's astonishment at "how many dark, kinky-haired Middle Easterners have invaded this country in the last decade" is not changed.
  • The epilogue's exultation that in 1989, "exactly a century after the birth of The Great One... the dream of a White world finally became a certainty", becomes "just 110 years" after Adolf Hitler's birth.

Also to make the book fit its later date, prices are usually doubled, and sums of money are also often doubled, but not consistently.

The second edition retains one major artifact of the original setting: in the first edition, dates fall on the same day of the week as their real-world 1980s dates. The later edition does not change days of the week, putting them out of sync with their 1990s dates. Another minor change is that a short passage, where Turner's lover spots his Order pendant, is moved a few pages earlier to the end of Chapter X. The first edition also featured illustrations by Dennis Nix. Later printings dropped the illustrations, used a smaller typeface, and switched from bold to italics for emphasis.


According to the Anti-Defamation League, it is "probably the most widely read book among far-right extremists; many have cited it as the inspiration behind their terrorist organizing and activity."[8] The Simon Wiesenthal Center calls it a "hate book".[9]

The novel was initially only available through mail order and partially serialized in National Alliance publications. As of 2000 it was reported to have sold about 500,000 copies.[1][10] The book is considered to be hate propaganda and thus, prohibited from being imported into Canada.[11][12]

Crimes associated with the book[edit]

  • The Order, an early 1980s Christian extremist and white supremacist group that emerged from the Aryan Nations, was involved in murder, robberies and counterfeiting, and was named after the group in the book and motivated by the book's scenarios for a race war. The group committed one of the biggest highway robberies of all time, then murdered radio host Alan Berg and engaged in other acts of violence in order to hasten the race war described in the book.[13]
  • Timothy McVeigh, responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, was found carrying an envelope containing pages from "The Turner Diaries" after the attack.[14]
  • John William King was convicted of dragging James Byrd, an African-American, to his death in Jasper, Texas in 1998. As King shackled Byrd's legs to the back of his truck he was reported to have said, "We're going to start The Turner Diaries early."[15]
  • David Copeland, a British Neo-Nazi who killed three people in a bombing campaign against London's black, Asian and gay communities in April 1999, quoted from The Turner Diaries while being interviewed by police.[16]
  • During the course of a federal trial relating to charges of conspiracy to violate civil rights and assault under color of law of Frank Jude, Jr. in 2004 by several off-duty police officers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a copy of The Turner Diaries was found during a search of the home of one of the officers charged and later convicted.[17]
  • A copy of The Turner Diaries was found (amidst other Neo-Nazi propaganda) in the home of Jacob D. Robida, who attacked 3 men at a gay bar with a hatchet and a gun. Robida fled, killing a hostage and a police officer before committing suicide.[18]

See also[edit]

  • Hunter, a novel with similar themes also written by Pierce under the nom de plume "Andrew Macdonald".
  • The Iron Heel by Jack London, a novel with a similar diary style, though with an opposite political message (which was Pierce's inspiration for The Turner Diaries)


  1. ^ a b Salamon, Julie (2000-10-23). "Television Review; The Web as Home for Racism and Hate". The New York Times (Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.). Retrieved 2007-09-05. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Extremism: The Turner Diaries". Anti-Defamation League. 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  3. ^ The New York Times April 26, 1995
  4. ^ "Southern Poverty Law Center". Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  5. ^ Harkavy, Ward (2000-11-15). "The Nazi on the Bestseller List". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2007-09-05. 
  6. ^ Shinbaum, Myrna (1996-05-16), Q & A on The Turner Diaries, Anti-Defamation League 
  7. ^ "The Turner Diaries - Race Baiting at its Finest". Paul Robinson. 2009-12-12. Retrieved 2010-05-02. .
  8. ^ "ADL". ADL. Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  9. ^ "Jewish group complains over sale of hate books online". CNN. Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  10. ^ Sutherland, John (2000-04-03). "Gospels of hate that slip through the net". Guardian Unlimited (Guardian). Retrieved 2007-09-05. 
  11. ^ EXCLUSIVE: Disturbing firearms seizures in Kelowna
  12. ^ A Step-by-Step Guide to Importing
  13. ^ Bosworth, Jr., Charles (1998-03-15). "Illinois Man Sought Start of Race War, Source Says". St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Louis Post-Dispatch, Inc.). p. A1. 
  14. ^ TIME
  15. ^ Miller, Phil (200-02-23). "Black Man's Killer Said: 'We're Starting the Turner Diaries Early'". The Scotsman (The Scotsman Publications). p. 3. 
  16. ^ BBC Panoroma (2000-06-30). "The Nailbomber". 
  17. ^ Barton, Gina (2007-08-02). "Ex-cop linked to rogue group". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Retrieved 2007-08-03. 
  18. ^ Caywood, Thomas (2006-02-08). "Infamous neo-Nazi literature found in killer's room". The Boston Herald (Boston Herald Inc.). p. 5. 

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