Growing up in the early 1970’s, I attended Catholic school and I remember including Patricia Hearst and her family in our morning prayers. However, we abruptly stopped including her in our prayers and I was never really sure why. Later on, I would hear about this case and that she had been “brainwashed” by her captors into helping them rob banks. Since this seems to be the summer of examining the O.J. trial with two television programs, it seems to be an appropriate time to read American Heiress.
The book was very well written and although I had some idea of the outcome, I found it a little suspenseful. How would Patricia and the rest of the Symbionese Liberation Army get caught? What she really brainwashed? Or was she aware of her actions? I don’t think we’ll know completely, but to examine this decades old case with today’s knowledge gave me the impression that Hearst was not only aware of her actions, but that it was also a matter of survival. Does that justify her actions? It is ironic, however, that she ended up belonging to the bourgeois society that she had rebelled against in her time with the SLA.
I also found it interesting how much this case impacted our current world. I did not realize that the first time “live breaking news” interrupted scheduled programming; it was because of the Patricia Hearst case. Whether or not you know about Patricia Hearst and the time she spent as a kidnapping victim and them domestic terrorist, this book is insightful and interesting. I highly recommend it. - Rosanna (Downtown)