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Dynamite, anarchists and the history of the surveillance state

In their heyday in America, anarchists pushed for change at any cost, including by blowing things up.

But the movement did more than just cause chaos.It helped lay the ground for what some call the surveillance state

One character is central to this explosive history: dynamite.

Best-selling authorSteven Johnson lays it all out in his new book and explains how Alfred Nobel’s invention forever disrupted our political world. 

This new history spans from 1866 to 1919. It tracks how the anarchist movement spread across Europe, into New York City and beyond.

The book is called “The Infernal Machine: A True Story of Dynamite, Terror, and the Rise of the Modern Detective.” Johnson describes Nobel’s explosive invention and illustrates how its subsequent impact paved the way for forensic science.

Copyright 2024 WAMU 88.5

Rupert Allman