Thai Jones knows the passions and consequences of American radicalism firsthand. Born while his parents – leaders of the radical Weather Underground – were fugitives from justice, he went by a series of aliases until the age of four, when FBI agents charged through the front door of his family’s Bronx apartment and took his parents to jail.
His first book, A Radical Line: From the Labor Movement to the Weather Underground, One Family's Century of Conscience (Free Press, 2004), explored the history behind that midnight raid, stepping back over a hundred years to understand how his family had come to find itself in such a vulnerable position. Thai’s latest work, More Powerful Than Dynamite: Radicals, Plutocrats, Progressives, and New York’s Year of Anarchy (Bloomsbury USA, 2012), widened that inquiry even further. Though no longer focusing on his own family, the book spotlighted a forgotten conflict in American political history, rediscovering a lost moment when New York City stood on the brink of the First World War, and the entire social fabric was on the verge of tatters.
Although radicals and dissidents have always animated Thai’s writings, his historical inquiries have always been scrupulously inclusive of the entire spectrum of engaged citizenry. In Dynamite, Emma Goldman and John Rockefeller Junior both have their say, leaving the reader to decide the merits of each position. Radical politics in his work are situated within the broader currents of national history. It is this attention to balance that has made Thai a welcome commentator in a diverse variety of publications and media, ranging from Fox News, to the New York Times, to the Occupied Wall Street Journal.
Thai Jones is an assistant professor of history at Bard College and holds a PhD from Columbia University. He is also a graduate of Columbia’s Journalism School and Vassar College. As an author with a foot in both the journalistic and academic worlds he strives to convey the latest scholarly findings to an audience that stretches far beyond the university cloisters. Yet the rigor of his research and analysis make his books perfect for classroom study, too.