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Author Kathleen Walls lived just 20 miles from where Eric Rudolph was captured. She has camped and hiked frequently in the Nantahala where Eric Rudolph hid during the past five years. She has shopped and dined in Murphy, Andrews and Nantahala where he lived. She has also lived in his birth city of Merritt Island Florida during the same time period as the fugitive and his family. She has visited Fort Benning, Homestead, and almost all of the places significant in Eric Rudolph's life.
Who is Eric Robert Rudolph? Arresting officer Jeff Postell found him cooperative and respectful. His Nantahala ninth grade teacher, Angie Bateman, recalls him only because of one essay he wrote in her class. Doyle Grant knew Eric as a polite and competent carpenter who worked on the Grant home. According to an interview Grant gave the New York Times, "It was always ‘Yes, ma’am’ and "Yes, sir.’ I never heard a swear word out of him."
Another man, John Glenn, who hired the 18 or 19-year-old Eric, along with a brother and a friend, to work on his home tells a very different story. "He was a lousy carpenter. He was a poor student, a bad soldier, and an incompetent bomb maker. He built a bomb to try to kill hundreds of people and only killed two. I would say he wasn’t even good at that. The only thing I would say was he was a good survivalist."
Who is this person who allegedly set off four bombs that took two lives and wounded more than 150 others,
A ninth grade dropout and a college student, an anti-government dissident who enlisted and served 18 months in the army; everything about this man is paradoxical.
To begin to understand the complex mass of contradictions that is Eric Rudolph, you need to go back. Way back.
Eric was the fifth of Patricia and Robert Rudolph’s six children. Even his birth was unusual. He was born at home in Merritt Island, Florida on Sept. 19, 1966. Robert was an aircraft mechanic. Perhaps the first seeds of distrust of authority were sown when Eric was in his early teens. Robert was diagnosed with Melanoma, a deadly strain of skin cancer. While fighting for his life, there appeared to be one drug that the family believed might have helped—Laetrile. Sadly, it was not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The family tried to obtain the drug by legal means in this country. They failed. They did finally succeed in getting it from Mexico but either their faith was misplaced in the "wonder cure" or it was too late.
When the cancer took his father in 1981, young Eric must have felt betrayed by the government. Perhaps the seeds of discontent with a government that fails to help some of those who need it most were already flourishing in his fertile mind. By all accounts, both parents had a lack of total trust in "the system."
His mother, Patricia, was a free thinker, a product of the "Beatnik" era. She prided herself on being an intellectual. In an interview with USA Today, she described herself as "a pacifist", an "anarchist", "anti-government" and a "Christian."
Patricia grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When and where she met and married Robert Rudolph remains unknown to the public. She was at least in her late teens or twenties. Obviously, she was always seeking answers in religion. As a young woman, she entered a Catholic convent and became a novice, the first step towards becoming a nun. She left before her final vows. Perhaps it was then that she began her quest for a faith that would fulfill her needs. She obviously included her children on that religious quest. She also brought her family up to look beyond the obvious. Nowhere is there any record of her using violent means to accomplish her goals. She believes her son could not be guilty of the things he is accused of because, "He was not taught violence at home."
She fears the government will fabricate the evidence against Eric. "What they are trying to do is build a case. They are matching nails and crazy things like that. Well, who doesn’t have nails in their garage? Why do you think they are building this case? Because he made them look like the fools they are."
Patricia never had much faith in the government. She passed that heritage to her children. But then during the 60’s and 70’s, whose faith in the government wasn’t severely shaken? The Kennedy assassination and the Warren Commission caused many people, with a lot stronger faith in the federal powers that be, to shake their heads in disbelief.
Then there was Watergate. Who of us that lived through that period doesn’t remember our president, the highest official in the land, lying and stonewalling the investigation until even the stupidest supporter had to realize the truth? Add that to the fact that all of Richard Nixon’s henchmen went to prison—granted it was a country club type setting for most—and all he did was resign.
Yes, while Pat Nixon was proclaiming her husband’s innocence, Pat Rudolph might have had just a little more reason to distrust the government.
Reviews of Man Hunt; The Eric Rudolph Story
You would have to have lived in a cave somewhere not to be familiar with Eric Rudolph especially the much-publicized manhunt in Western North Carolina. If you were like me though you knew very little about the man himself or his family and friends. Having the savvy of a persistent journalist, Kathleen Walls fills in the blanks about the man.
This book does not proclaim guilt or innocence on Rudolph’s part but it does provide compelling information that lets you draw an educated verdict of your own. Good job Kathleen, the public will enjoy reading this and learn from it!
Reviewed by J. Donald Oakes, author of The Stump’s on Fire and I’m Naked.
Tired of wax sandwich type books? Would something a tad more controversial like the Eric Rudolph case, with its attendant tie-ins into abortion and right and wrong, be a bit more stimulating? If you can answer "yes" to either question, you've come to the right place. Kathleen Walls has written a true-life thriller with Man Hunt, a thrilling ride into a case and situation that has transfixed the nation. Lighten up your wallets for this one, folks.
Ed Williams, author of Rough As A Cob: More of The Juliette Journals.
Kathleen Walls presents an in-depth look into the 5-year manhunt for Eric Rudolph, the accused bomber of the Atlantic Olympic Games and several abortion clinics. Rudolph, a simple mountain man, eluded the best that the government could throw at him during the most publicized manhunt in recent history. In the end, a young local policeman from the area where Rudolph lived was the one who captured him. Ms. Walls lived within a stone’s throw of where Rudolph was eventually captured. She has interviewed local people who knew Rudolph as he was growing up and thereby provides as close a look at the inner workings of his mind as anyone can possibly do. Man Hunt is a must read book for anyone who is familiar with the Eric Rudolph story—and that includes almost everyone who is a living breathing person who watches the news channels or reads the newspapers.
Reviewed by Kristie Leigh Maguire, author of: Desert Heat - a world of sex, passion and romance (romantica) No Lady and Her Tramp - love, trailer park style! (comedy) Emails from the Edge - the life of an expatriate wife (memoirs)
Manhunt, The Eric Rudolph Story is a must read for all 'true crime' fans. The research Ms. Walls has put into this book makes the reader feel he knows Rudolph and the way he thinks and feels. Rudolph, who eluded Law Enforcement agencies throughout North Carolina and was finally captured by a rookie cop became a sort of folk hero to those in the mountains of North Carolina. Ms. Walls has written a really superb and highly interesting book that takes you on the ride with Eric Rudolph from his early years until his capture.
Award-winning co-author with Kam Ruple, Bobby Ruble-Have No Mercy and Black Rosebud: Have No Mercy II and former Chief-of-Police in Kennesaw, Georgia.