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Silver award winner, 2023 Midwest Book Award for Biography

Behind every act of domestic terrorism there is someone’s child, an average American whose life took a radical turn for reasons that often remain mysterious. Camilla Hall is a case in point: a pastor’s daughter from small-town Minnesota who eventually joined the ranks of radicals like Sara Jane Olson (aka Kathleen Soliah) in the notorious Symbionese Liberation Army before dying in a shootout with Los Angeles Police in May 1974. How could a “good girl” like Camilla become one of the most wanted domestic terrorists in the United States? Rachael Hanel tells her story here, revealing both the deep humanity and the extraordinary circumstances of Camilla Hall’s life.

During this time of mounting unrest and violence, Camilla’s story is of urgent interest for what it reveals about the forces of radicalization. But as Hanel ventures further into Camilla’s past, searching out the critical points where character and cause intersect, her book becomes an intriguing, disturbing, and deeply moving journey into the dark side of America’s promise.

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Finalist, Minnesota Book Award, memoir and creative nonfiction

From the University of Minnesota Press catalog:


This book presents the unique, moving perspective of a gravedigger’s daughter and her lifelong relationship with death. It is also a masterful meditation on the living elements of our cemeteries: our neighbors, friends, and families and how these things come together in the eyes of a young girl whose childhood is suffused with death and the wonder of the living.


— Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home and Are You My Mother?

Book no.1

We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down gently untucks dying, death, and mourning from the dark recesses of the drawer we Midwesterners, descendants of the stoic and neat, have kept it. Choice passages of Hanel's story so affected me that my throat went sore swallowing grief. All the while, I had the sense of watching a determined child fall down, scrape her knee, and stand up, lip quivering, eyes glistening but resolute.

— Nicole Helget, author of Summer of Ordinary Ways and The Turtle Catcher

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