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Hunting the Unabomber: The FBI, Ted Kaczynski, and the Capture of America’s Most Notorious Domestic Terrorist

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From Lis Wiehl, New York Times bestselling author and "storyteller extraordinaire" (Steve Berry), with New York Times bestselling crime writer Lisa Pulitzer, the definitive, gripping account of the longest pursuit in FBI history: the quest to find and capture the domestic terrorist Ted Kaczynski On April 3, 1996, a team of FBI agents closed in on an isolated cabin in remote From Lis Wiehl, New York Times bestselling author and "storyteller extraordinaire" (Steve Berry), with New York Times bestselling crime writer Lisa Pulitzer, the definitive, gripping account of the longest pursuit in FBI history: the quest to find and capture the domestic terrorist Ted Kaczynski On April 3, 1996, a team of FBI agents closed in on an isolated cabin in remote Montana, marking the end of the longest and most expensive investigation in FBI history. The cabin's lone inhabitant was a former mathematics prodigy and wunderkind professor who had abandoned society decades earlier. Few people knew his name, Theodore Kaczynski, but everyone knew the mayhem and death associated with his nickname: the Unabomber. For two decades, Kaczynski had masterminded a campaign of random terror, killing and maiming innocent people through bombs sent in untraceable packages. The FBI task force charged with finding the perpetrator of these horrifying crimes grew to 150 people, yet his identity remained a maddening mystery. Then, in 1995, a "manifesto" from the Unabomber was published in the New York Times and Washington Post, resulting in a cascade of tips--including the one that cracked the case. With access to new primary sources and exclusive interviews with key law enforcement officials, New York Times bestselling author and former federal prosecutor Lis Wiehl meticulously reconstructs the white-knuckle, tension-filled hunt to identify and capture the mysterious killer. A revelatory, historical thriller of the years-long battle of wits between the FBI and the brilliant-but-criminally insane Kaczynski, Hunting the Unabomber is the spellbinding account of the most complex and captivating manhunt in American history.


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From Lis Wiehl, New York Times bestselling author and "storyteller extraordinaire" (Steve Berry), with New York Times bestselling crime writer Lisa Pulitzer, the definitive, gripping account of the longest pursuit in FBI history: the quest to find and capture the domestic terrorist Ted Kaczynski On April 3, 1996, a team of FBI agents closed in on an isolated cabin in remote From Lis Wiehl, New York Times bestselling author and "storyteller extraordinaire" (Steve Berry), with New York Times bestselling crime writer Lisa Pulitzer, the definitive, gripping account of the longest pursuit in FBI history: the quest to find and capture the domestic terrorist Ted Kaczynski On April 3, 1996, a team of FBI agents closed in on an isolated cabin in remote Montana, marking the end of the longest and most expensive investigation in FBI history. The cabin's lone inhabitant was a former mathematics prodigy and wunderkind professor who had abandoned society decades earlier. Few people knew his name, Theodore Kaczynski, but everyone knew the mayhem and death associated with his nickname: the Unabomber. For two decades, Kaczynski had masterminded a campaign of random terror, killing and maiming innocent people through bombs sent in untraceable packages. The FBI task force charged with finding the perpetrator of these horrifying crimes grew to 150 people, yet his identity remained a maddening mystery. Then, in 1995, a "manifesto" from the Unabomber was published in the New York Times and Washington Post, resulting in a cascade of tips--including the one that cracked the case. With access to new primary sources and exclusive interviews with key law enforcement officials, New York Times bestselling author and former federal prosecutor Lis Wiehl meticulously reconstructs the white-knuckle, tension-filled hunt to identify and capture the mysterious killer. A revelatory, historical thriller of the years-long battle of wits between the FBI and the brilliant-but-criminally insane Kaczynski, Hunting the Unabomber is the spellbinding account of the most complex and captivating manhunt in American history.

30 review for Hunting the Unabomber: The FBI, Ted Kaczynski, and the Capture of America’s Most Notorious Domestic Terrorist

  1. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    Great book for those with an interest in the elusive unabomber who held law enforcement at bay for so many years. I remember so much about the fear Theodore Kaczynsky caused, as he committed acts of terror by bombing random locations, injuring and killing innocent bystanders. Well written and easy to read with lots of resources and information in chronological order. Fascinating case.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Maine Colonial

    Those of us who were adults in the late 20th century remember the Unabomber case. For years, starting at the end of the 1970s, improvised explosive devices targeted university professors, airlines and tech shops. Once commonalities established that these were the work of one attacker, the case became known as UNABOM, which stood for UNiversity and Airline BOMber. Of course, the perpetrator was called the Unabomber. The case took many years, countless agent hours and vast sums of money to crack. O Those of us who were adults in the late 20th century remember the Unabomber case. For years, starting at the end of the 1970s, improvised explosive devices targeted university professors, airlines and tech shops. Once commonalities established that these were the work of one attacker, the case became known as UNABOM, which stood for UNiversity and Airline BOMber. Of course, the perpetrator was called the Unabomber. The case took many years, countless agent hours and vast sums of money to crack. Over time, the Unabomber finally gave the investigators, principally from the FBI, enough evidence to reveal his identity as Ted Kaczynski, a genius who had begun college at 16, progressed to a mathematics Ph.D., taught at Berkeley for a period, but then dropped out and lived in a 10x12 handmade cabin near Lincoln, Montana. Kaczynski was finally arrested in 1996, pled guilty to multiple charges, including murders, received eight life sentences, and is held at the Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado. Lis Wiehl introduces us to the people on the UNABOM task force and painstakingly details their investigation. If you remember from the time, the big break in the case came when the Unabomber’s manifesto was published in the Washington Post. Normally the FBI wouldn’t agree to give a terrorist’s manifesto out for publication, but in this case there were two reasons for the go-ahead: he had promised to stop killing people if it was published, and it was thought that the more people saw the content of the work the more likely it would be that someone would recognize the writing and be able to identify the writer. And sure enough, it turned out that Ted Kaczynski’s brother recognized his older brother’s voice in the text and contacted the FBI. Wiehl writes that she learned during her research that the recent Discovery channel series about the investigation was misleading, conflating several investigators and giving too much credit to one particular investigator. Maybe the screenwriters thought viewers would be too confused by a lot of characters. While there are a lot of them in the book, Wiehl’s writing is lucid and she makes it easy to follow the story. One thing that particularly intrigued me was that quite a few members of the investigative team pooh-poohed the agents who believed that a copy of Kaczynski’s work, compared to the Unabomber manifesto, showed that the authors were one and the same. At the time, linguistic forensics was not as widely accepted as it is today. It was novel for the federal judge to grant a search warrant based on linguistic forensics, in the absence (at the time) of physical evidence connecting Kaczynski to the bombs. Because Wiehl’s focus is the investigation, she doesn’t look deeply into Kaczynski’s manifesto, titled Industrial Society and Its Future, with its theme that “[t]he Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race.” He particularly damns technology for damaging the environment and the human psyche, substituting artificial life for natural life. Many of his points particularly resonate today, and in prison he has the social life he never had before, corresponding with dozens of people regularly. Why a brilliant man thought that terrorism would help achieve his goals is a mystery—but then that’s true of all terrorism. This is a well-written book that is a good choice for people who enjoy reading about the true crime investigative process. I received a free publisher’s review copy via Netgalley.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Randal White

    I loved this book! Found it very hard to put down. I have always been fascinated by the Unabomber, and have read a lot of information about him. But here the author has consolidated all the stories into a cohesive, chronological telling of the decades long story. And she had unique access to the men and women who conducted the hunt. Really compelling reading. She is an excellent writer!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sarah - All The Book Blog Names Are Taken

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I could not put this book down. I have vague memories of hearing about the Unabomber on the news and recall being scared of his suspect sketch, but for some reason my memories are far more clear of Waco and Ruby Ridge and the Oklahoma City bombing and I’m not sure why. You can find my full review over on my blog: https://allthebookblognamesaretaken.b... I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I could not put this book down. I have vague memories of hearing about the Unabomber on the news and recall being scared of his suspect sketch, but for some reason my memories are far more clear of Waco and Ruby Ridge and the Oklahoma City bombing and I’m not sure why. You can find my full review over on my blog: https://allthebookblognamesaretaken.b...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Yakira Goldsberry

    Not many non-fiction books can hold my attention for too long. Not unless it’s Medieval or Norse history, a book on horses, a book on real detectives, or just plain weird. Or, unless it’s about crime. I’ve only dived into a couple other books about criminals, the one about a woman who did studied on serial killers like Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacey to understand just how they worked, and the other was about the two men who started the Behavioral Analysis Unit in the FBI. So naturally, I was inte Not many non-fiction books can hold my attention for too long. Not unless it’s Medieval or Norse history, a book on horses, a book on real detectives, or just plain weird. Or, unless it’s about crime. I’ve only dived into a couple other books about criminals, the one about a woman who did studied on serial killers like Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacey to understand just how they worked, and the other was about the two men who started the Behavioral Analysis Unit in the FBI. So naturally, I was interested when I saw Hunting the Unabomber on NetGalley. I just had to read it. The beginning of the book starts out like a story; illustrating what life was like in December of 1992 in California. Then we ease into the life of FBI Supervisory Special Agent Patrick Webb, and we follow his thread of the story (mostly) throughout the book as he laid out details about the monstrous case involving the Unabomber to the author. The voice of the narrative continued to be engaging, and just sucked me right in. I listened to every detail with rapt attention, even when things got messy for the people mentioned. I already knew quite a bit about the Unabomber, due to the fact that my mom took criminal psychology in college and wrote a paper on Ted Kaczynski. So it was giving me a more in-depth picture of the man who I grew up believing to be this monstrous nightmare. I found it to be a very enlightening and somewhat puzzling story. No one knows quite what made Ted snap in the end. He just…did, making a conscious decision to start killing. Wiehl portrays all of this without any sort of bias, leaving the reader to make their own conclusions. I’d have to say that this is one that I really liked. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading true crime, criminal history, or is just curious about one of America’s most notorious domestic terrorists. NOTE: I received a complimentary copy from NetGalley for review purposes only. All thoughts and opinions are my own

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sara Wise

    ** “The Unabomber’s sole intent was to cause injury and death. That was part of what made him so difficult to profile and ultimately identity.” ** Third-generation federal prosecutor and daughter of an FBI agent Lis Wiehl, along with Lisa Pulitzer, dives deep into America’s longest running FBI investigation in “Hunting the Unabomber.” Wiehl takes an extremely thorough approach to reveal the case of the Unabomber — Ted Kaczynski — and his nearly two decade reign of terror, committing 16 bomb attack ** “The Unabomber’s sole intent was to cause injury and death. That was part of what made him so difficult to profile and ultimately identity.” ** Third-generation federal prosecutor and daughter of an FBI agent Lis Wiehl, along with Lisa Pulitzer, dives deep into America’s longest running FBI investigation in “Hunting the Unabomber.” Wiehl takes an extremely thorough approach to reveal the case of the Unabomber — Ted Kaczynski — and his nearly two decade reign of terror, committing 16 bomb attacks that killed three and injured 23 people. Relying heavily on details from FBI Agent Patrick Webb, she explains how the FBI took some seemingly random and unrelated bombings against universities, airlines and a computer store, and learned to work with other agencies — the ATF and U.S. Postal Service — to find the man who would be come known as the Unabomber. The book discusses Kaczynski’s ability to leave no trace evidence in his bombs, severely frustrating the agents, while also revealing his past, from childhood into adulthood, attempting to humanize him a bit and delve into his psyche to learn why he committed these atrocious crimes. Those who enjoy true crime will love this book, seeing revelations into how law enforcement works to solve crimes using good old brain power, but also how the change in technology over time helped. It also allows the reader to think about intent behind committing crimes. Wiehl and Pulitzer do an incredible job of creating an accurate, non-fictionalized telling of the Unabomber case. There are a lot of facts, timelines and people involved, but overall they do a good job of repeatedly reminding the reader of who people are and when and how events unraveled. Five stars out of five. Nelson Books, an imprint of Thomas Nelson, provided this complimentary copy through NetGalley for my honest, unbiased review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    Lis Wiehl gives us all the details from the Unabomber case in her book Hunting the Unabomber.- a deep dive of the case and Kaczynski's background. Wiehl writes of Kaczynski's childhood - mostly his adolescence when his genius intellect set him apart from other kids his age. She discusses the question about the impact of his skipping grades in school and starting at Harvard at age 16. What happens to a person that becomes isolated from normal social groups? What lasting impact did the interrogatio Lis Wiehl gives us all the details from the Unabomber case in her book Hunting the Unabomber.- a deep dive of the case and Kaczynski's background. Wiehl writes of Kaczynski's childhood - mostly his adolescence when his genius intellect set him apart from other kids his age. She discusses the question about the impact of his skipping grades in school and starting at Harvard at age 16. What happens to a person that becomes isolated from normal social groups? What lasting impact did the interrogation experiment that he was a part of at Harvard have on him? Why would someone hide in a primitive cabin on the edge of survival and plot ways to kill people? Wiehl touches on all of the bombings and talks about the lack of a focused, coordinated task force and the handful of agents from multiple agencies who were determined to find and prosecute the bomber. Only negative is the tendency to spend too many words listing a participant's credentials. Overall, an interesting book and good choice for true crime buffs.

  8. 5 out of 5

    June Kuehn

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was a factual and chronological account of the Unabomber from the first bombings to his ultimate capture. The author takes issue with a prior documentary that gave credit to one individual in identifying the Unabomber that led to his capture. This account relates a massive effort led by various team members from multiple agencies. Although it was mired down with a lot of detailed information before the culmination, overall it was a well written suspenseful and interesting read. She was able This was a factual and chronological account of the Unabomber from the first bombings to his ultimate capture. The author takes issue with a prior documentary that gave credit to one individual in identifying the Unabomber that led to his capture. This account relates a massive effort led by various team members from multiple agencies. Although it was mired down with a lot of detailed information before the culmination, overall it was a well written suspenseful and interesting read. She was able to articulate the anguish of the brother who initially is in denial but can’t deny the similarities in the writings of his brother that provides the impetus to his ultimate capture. I would recommend this book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Nowak

    I'm not sure what made me request this ARC, as while I knew of the Unibomber & the extended search to find out his identity, it really wasn't of great interest to me. I contemplated not reading it, but decided to give it a try and then decide whether to continue or not. I read the first couple pages, and I was hooked! The writing style is engaging and it is told in layman's terms and does not assume you know anything about what went on. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone. It is v I'm not sure what made me request this ARC, as while I knew of the Unibomber & the extended search to find out his identity, it really wasn't of great interest to me. I contemplated not reading it, but decided to give it a try and then decide whether to continue or not. I read the first couple pages, and I was hooked! The writing style is engaging and it is told in layman's terms and does not assume you know anything about what went on. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone. It is very informative & insiteful and can be enjoyed by people with great Unabomber knowledge and also by novices, like myself!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Busch

    I wanted to like this book. I enjoy true crime novels, and I thought it would be interesting to read this one, written by a former FBI agent. But the prose was so dry, and there were a lot of details that the author seemed to think you should already be familiar with. I knew very little about the case, and about the Unabomber. I still feel uninformed on the case because the different bombings were not presented in a linear manner. I may try another novel about the Unabomber, or I may take a brea I wanted to like this book. I enjoy true crime novels, and I thought it would be interesting to read this one, written by a former FBI agent. But the prose was so dry, and there were a lot of details that the author seemed to think you should already be familiar with. I knew very little about the case, and about the Unabomber. I still feel uninformed on the case because the different bombings were not presented in a linear manner. I may try another novel about the Unabomber, or I may take a break from nonfiction.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I was a bit afraid this book would get bogged down with the play by play of the excruciatingly long search for the Unabomber but the authors did a good job breaking it up with other content. Definitely learned a lot and wish I had any recollection of this since I was a freshman in high school when he was arrested.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Annarella

    A well researched, interesting and engrossing book that made me discover more about Unbomber and how he was hunted. An excellent read, highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    DNF

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    Very police focused and seems to rely a large basis on other people's books. No real depth. Ok overview.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

  17. 5 out of 5

    Stephen J. Brown

  18. 4 out of 5

    James

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jen Sloan

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michael Perera-Collins

  21. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

  22. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

  23. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Greensmith

  24. 4 out of 5

    April

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sue Mitchell

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa Wilberger

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tara

  28. 5 out of 5

    Repix

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ahliah

  30. 5 out of 5

    Shawna Corner

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