Buda's Wagon

Buda's Wagon:A Brief History of the Car Bomb

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The brilliant and disturbing 100-year history of the “poor man’s air force,” the ubiquitous weapon of urban mass destruction

On a September day in 1920, an angry Italian anarchist named Mario Buda exploded a horse-drawn wagon filled with dynamite and iron scrap near New York’s Wall Street, killing 40 people. Since Buda’s prototype the car bomb has evolved into a “poor man’s air force,” a generic weapon of mass destruction that now craters cities from Bombay to Oklahoma City.

In this provocative history, Mike Davis traces the its worldwide use and development, in the process exposing the role of state intelligence agencies—particularly those of the United States, Israel, India, and Pakistan—in globalizing urban terrorist techniques. Davis argues that it is the incessant impact of car bombs, rather than the more apocalyptic threats of nuclear or bio-terrorism, that is changing cities and urban lifestyles, as privileged centers of power increasingly surround themselves with “rings of steel” against a weapon that nevertheless seems impossible to defeat.

Reviews

  • A brilliant antidote to official history, allowing us to understand how the weak have fought back, ingloriously, against the onslaught of the strong.

    John Pilger
  • Mike Davis follows the evolution of the car bomb from the Balkans to Palestine, Vietnam, Northern Ireland, Lebanon and, of course, Iraq.

    New York Times
  • Davis, long-time chronicler of apocalyptic terror, has done it again: he has made me scared … The brilliance of Davis’s story is undeniable.

    The Times (London)