The Hands That Crafted the Bomb: The Making of a Lifelong Antifascist

Regular price $ 22.95

by Josh Fernandez

PM Press

2/13/2024, paperback

SKU: 9798887440231


Josh Fernandez is a community college professor who finds himself under investigation for "soliciting students for potentially dangerous activities" after starting an antifascist club on campus.

As Fernandez spends the year defending his job, he reflects on a life lived in protest of the status quo, swept up in chaos and rage, from his childhood in Boston dealing with a mentally ill father and a new family to growing up in Davis, California, in the basement shows of the early '90s when Nazi boneheads proliferated the music scene, looking for heads to crack. His crew's first attempts at an antifascist group fall short when a member dies in a knife fight. A born antiauthoritarian, filled with an untamable rage, Fernandez rails against the system and aggressively chooses the path of most resistance. This leads to long spates of living in his car, strung out on drugs, and robbing the whiteboys coming home from the clubs at night.

Fernandez eventually realizes that his rage needs an outlet and finds relief for his existential dread in the form of running. And fighting Nazis. Fernandez cobbles together a life for himself as a writing professor, a facilitator of a self-defense collective, a boots-on-the-ground participant in Antifa work, and a proud father of two children he unapologetically raises to question authority.

But his parents and academia seem to think Fernandez is failing miserably, putting his children and his students at risk, and they treat Fernandez like he's a time bomb, ready to explode at any moment. They may have a point.


"Fernandez is scathing on the corporate-minded liberals who talk about equity and diversity, antiracism and gay rights but can't deal with people actually defending themselves or challenging authority. What he offers instead isn't heroics or militant slogans or even measured analysis--it's the messy story of a "fucked up person" trying to "channel rage into something less destructive," a guy who tends to run face-first into danger but also has the good sense to run away screaming when confronted with a knife-wielding racist. Fernandez's account of violence, trauma, and loneliness is hard to read in places, but there's an underlying sweetness here, a hopefulness about flawed people helping each other out, a sense that if we can get past the lies, we can remake this world together." -- Matthew N. Lyons, author of Insurgent Supremacists: The U.S. Far Right's Challenge to State and Empire

"Rarely do professors or propagandists pull back the curtain behind their pontification to reveal the fear, pain, self-doubt, and sense of uncertainty that inevitably lurk behind any veneer of confidence and courage, which is why Josh Fernandez's memoir is so humanizing and haunting. The Hands that Crafted the Bomb is a scathing indictment of academia's general inability (and/or unwillingness) to take a stand against fascism and an engrossing point of departure for readers to reflect upon their own anti-racist and anti-fascist journeys." -- Mark Bray, author of Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook

About the Author:

Joshua Fernandez is an anti-racist organizer, father, runner, fighter, English professor, and a writer, whose stories have appeared in Spin, the Sacramento BeeThe Hard Times, and several alternative news weeklies. He lives in Sacramento, CA and teaches at Folsom Lake College.