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Mike Davis: Buda`s Wagon. A Brief History of the Car Bomb

13.05.2009 | Mike Davis
Buda's Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb

History of the car bomb traces the political development of this influential weapon of terror and resistance

Winner of the 2007 Lannan Literary Award for Non-Fiction

On a September day in 1920, an angry Italian anarchist named Mario Buda exploded a horse-drawn wagon filled with dynamite and iron scrap near New York’s Wall Street, killing 40 people. Since Buda’s prototype the car bomb has evolved into a “poor man’s air force,” a generic weapon of mass destruction that now craters cities from Bombay to Oklahoma City.

In this gripping and disturbing history, Mike Davis traces its worldwide use and development, in the process exposing the role of state intelligence agencies—particularly those of the United States, Israel, India, and Pakistan—in globalizing urban terrorist techniques. Davis argues that it is the incessant impact of car bombs, rather than the more apocalyptic threats of nuclear or bio-terrorism, that is changing cities and urban lifestyles, as privileged centers of power increasingly surround themselves with “rings of steel” against a weapon that nevertheless seems impossible to defeat.

“Davis creates a fascinating genealogy that raises chilling questions about the future of terrorism.” — Atlantic Monthly

“Typical of Mike Davis, this extraordinary book is a brilliant antidote to official history, allowing us to understand how the weak have fought back, ingloriously, against the onslaught of the strong.” — John Pilger

“Brilliant … Buda’s Wagon escorts us with a savage sarcasm from the first-known instance of the art “ to prsent-day Gaza and Iraq, where most people reside outside the Green Zone.” — Harper’s

“The brilliance and power of Davis’ story is undeniable.” — Joanna Bourke, The Times

MacArthur fellow Mike Davis lives in San Diego. He is the author of Planet of Slums, Prisoners of the American Dream, City of Quartz, Ecology of Fear, Dead Cities, Magical Urbanism, Late Victorian Holocausts, and The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu.

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