May 20, 1969: Four members of the revolutionary Black Panther Party trudge through woods along the edges of the Coginchaug River outside of New Haven, Connecticut. Gunshots shatter the silence. Three men emerge from the woods. Soon, two are in police custody. One flees across the country. Nine Panthers would be tried for crimes committed that night, including National Chairman Bobby Seale, extradited from California with the aide of Panther nemesis, California Governor Ronald Reagan. Activists of all denominations descended on the New England city- and the campus of Yale. The Nixon administration sent 4,000 National Guardsmen. U.S. military tanks lined the streets outside of New Haven. In this white-knuckle journey through a turbulent America, Doug Rae and Paul Bass let us eavesdrop on late-night meetings between Yale President, Kingman Brewster, and radical activists, including Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, as they try to avert disaster. Meanwhile, most heartrending of all is the never-before-told story of Warren Kimbro- star community worker turned Panther assassin- who faces an uphill battle to turn his life around.
Paul Bass has covered Connecticut for local, regional, and national publications since arriving at Yale as an undergraduate. He has won dozens of awards for journalistic excellence, including the New England Press Association's 1997 and 1999 "Journalist of the Year." He lives in New Haven, Connecticut. Doug Rae holds the Richard Ely Chair in the Yale School of Management. His published writings include the prizewinning Political Consequences of Electoral Laws, Equalities and City: Urbanism and its End. Rae has won numerous awards and fellowships, including a Guggenheim Fellowship (1968). He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.