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ROMANTIC VIOLENCE: Memoirs of an American Skinhead is a poignant memoir written by a former neo-Nazi leader turned peace advocate.
ROMANTIC VIOLENCE: Memoirs of an American Skinhead is a poignant memoir written by a former neo-Nazi leader turned peace advocate.
ROMANTIC VIOLENCE: Memoirs of an American Skinhead is a poignant memoir written by a former neo-Nazi leader turned peace advocate.
360 backers pledged $15,415 to help bring this project to life.

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Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead (book)

$15,415

360

NOW THAT WE CLEARED $15,000, HERE IS A NEW STRETCH GOAL!

If we raise $25,000 - I will send one free copy of the book to each of the 642 Illinois public libraries and 198 college and university libraries in Illinois, so that those who might need access to my story can learn from my journey.

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Hi there. I'm Christian Picciolini. Thanks for checking out the Kickstarter campaign for my first book, Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead. It means everything to me that you're here. Please read on.

I've spent a significant part of the last six years recalling, condensing, and writing about a period in my life that I'd rather forget. But I won't soon forget it. Not in this lifetime anyways. I certainly have a lot to be thankful for, but I can't rest until I've pulled out all the poisonous weeds that have sprung from seeds I scattered many years ago. Here's my story...

My memoir, Romantic Violence, chronicles both my early childhood as I try to find a place to fit in as a first generation American, and my life as a former neo-Nazi skinhead leader, where in my youthful ignorance, I thought I had finally found a place to belong.

My young parents both arrived in the United States from Italy in the late-1960s and settled with their families in the same area in suburban Chicago. Neither spoke English. My mother was so severely criticized for her foreign ways that she dropped out of high school. My father, while more adaptable to a new culture, still spent most of his time with other immigrants. They met on a blind date and pleased both families when they announced their engagement and were married soon after.

When my mother became pregnant with me, my parents wanted to ensure their child had all the advantages of a typical American boy, so they moved to a non-Italian neighborhood. When I was in first grade, they enrolled me in a Catholic school full of kids from white upper middle class homes. To provide this lifestyle for me, they worked long hours, which meant they weren’t home much. I spent every day, including weekends, with my grandparents in working class Blue Island, a South Chicago suburb with a neighborhood populated almost exclusively by Italian immigrants. My early childhood years were steeped in old world traditions, despite my parents’ efforts to make me an all-American boy.

While these early years in a working class Italian neighborhood made me sensitive to the hardships of non-native born Americans, at the age of 14, I became enamored by Clark Martell, the very first—and most infamous—neo-Nazi skinhead in the United States. Determined to be just like him, I spent the next eight years of my life rising through the ranks of the world's most violent white supremacist organization. I was the founder and lead singer of the first American skinhead band to ever play in Europe.

For nearly a decade, I traveled throughout the Midwest and South spreading the racist message that the white race was in peril. I marched with the KKK, instigated hate crimes, and had an arsenal of weapons in preparation of overthrowing our government, which I was certain must occur if the white race was to be saved from annihilation. I was kicked out of every high school I attended; yet I also got good grades, was the captain of my high school’s football team, and was well-respected by the adults in my neighborhood. The FBI showed up at my wedding to see who the attendees were. Moammar Khadafi wanted to form an alliance with me. 

I paid a high price for my skinhead involvement and constantly battled building doubts about the poisonous ideals I held for the seven years I was a racist. It wasn't until after a few years of marriage to a woman I deeply loved, my wife divorced me, taking our two young sons with her. I realized at that point that my hateful beliefs were destroying me and I finally found the courage to leave them behind. In my twenties, after much soul searching, I found my way into an excellent job at IBM, took advantage of their education benefits, and earned a degree in international business/international relations from DePaul University, earning a 3.98 GPA. While attending DePaul University I was part of a United Nations conference focused on the Millennium Development Goals, and the importance of helping others became the focus of my world. 

But the effects of my skinhead years were not behind me. In 2004, my only sibling—a brother 10 years my junior—was violently attacked by a black gang member. Family and friends feared my racism would resurface, and I would seek revenge.

Nothing was less likely to happen. My actions had been at least partially responsible for my brother’s problem, who had tried to emulate me by leading the life of an outlaw.

I've since gone on to do some positive things with my life and am thankful for those compassionate ones who I've been lucky to meet along my journey. I was humbled to co-found an organization in 2009 dedicated to promoting basic human goodness and helping others discover the beauty of diversity. The non-profit is called Life After Hate.

***If you'd like to read a preview of some of the chapters of Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead, download a PDF here.

THE BOOK IS FULLY WRITTEN AND JUST ABOUT DONE, BUT YOUR SUPPORT OF THIS CAMPAIGN GETS IT PUBLISHED AND DISTRIBUTED.

My goal is to release the book in early 2015. I have been writing this book at night and on the weekends for the last 6 years--since January 2008. It's just about ready to publish, but I need your assistance with financing the final edit and publishing and getting to the finish line.

If you are able to pledge some money to help fund this project, know that I am forever grateful. If you can't afford it or just don't want to, I completely understand. Please support the campaign by sharing the video or link to this page. I'm thankful for that too. I already consider myself lucky to have gotten this far and to think we can fund this together as a community is even more exciting. The future looks bright, thanks to your continued support.

'So... Where's My Money Going?'

Your generous pledges will go to the printing, copy editing, design, and distribution of the book, as well as page formatting of the print and digital versions. The goal is to have an April/May 2015 book launch. Here's the breakdown of how I'd allocate the pledges:

  • Copy Editing & Proofreading: While I feel that I've written a powerful and eloquent manuscript, the final step is always to get a professional copy editor and proofreader to give it a final once over before going to print. This will ensure another set of eyes so I can get this to you perfectly. Harvard commas and all.
  • Print Layout Formatting: Both the hardcover and softcover need to be laid out onto differently formatted print templates, not to mention 3 different versions for ebooks.
  • Cover Designer: From my days working at Threadless and in the arts, I've been lucky to meet a ton of amazing artists from all over the world. I'd like to ask one of them to help design the book jacket.
  • Publishing: This is the most significant bulk cost of the budget. It's also hard to estimate because it really depends on how many of you help kickstart it. Paying to manufacture the books is about half the budget.
  • Distribution: This is probably the smallest line item in the budget, but there nonetheless. Amazon.com, iTunes, and copyright registration costs pertain here.
  • Rewards: I wanted to mark this milestone with some special rewards for all you generous campaign donors. Aside from the actual, physical books (and handmade bookmarks), there are also mailing boxes, packing tape, and a hefty amount of postage/shipping costs.
  • Kickstarter: They take 5% off the total amount raised.

Based on your level of support, there are all sorts of different gifts in store for you. All pledges will receive some sort of reward, whether it is a copy of the book, a personal visit, an ebook, an illustrated appearance in my next book, or merely good karma.

Please remember how Kickstarter works: if we're even a dollar short of our goal, the project does NOT get funded. So, even a dollar helps. Even if we achieve the full amount before the campaign ends, some people might not be able to fulfill their pledge. That means we need a comfortable margin. If we blow through the number, that just means there will be budget for me to send more books to libraries and schools across the country (and world). I'll also unlock some more fun and personal rewards if we exceed the initial goal.

Stretch Goals: Help Unlock New Rewards!

I'd love for more people to be part of this adventure. If you help me raise the following amounts, above and beyond our goal, I'll also unlock some fun, new rewards:

If we raise $15,000 - I will send one free copy of the book to each of the 79 Chicago public libraries, so that those who might need access to my story can learn from my journey. I will also upgrade every single backer over $25 to receive an amazing #MakeGoodHappen art piece by Matthew Hoffman, the artist behind the You Are Beautiful stickers you see all over the world.

If we raise $25,000 - I will send one free copy of the book to each of the 642 Illinois public libraries and 198 college and university libraries in Illinois, so that those who might need access to my story can learn from my journey.

If we raise $50,000 - I will release the ebook for free for the whole world to download it forever.

If we raise $100,000 or more, I will send one copy of the book to every public library in the United States. That's over 16,000 libraries! I will also personally start a $10,000 Scholarship Fund and identify five deserving "at risk" youths to each receive $2,000 towards their education. It will also help fund my next book!

You are the Best.

Whatever happens with this campaign, thank you. I'm already humbled. Even if these are the first of my words you've ever read, thank you. The fact that you knowingly chose to take time out of your life to read something I wrote about a very dark period of my life makes all of this a worthwhile, strange, and touching experience. That makes you the best humans around.

I hope to continue to tell people about what I've learned from my experiences for as long as I can, whether it be about the mistakes I've made, the compassion I've received, or the knowledge that there are other paths available. There are lots of us out there (Frank Meeink, Angela King, Tony McAleer, Arno Michaelis, Timothy Zaal, TJ Leyden, Sammy Rangel) doing good and so many more looking for a way out. Be good to each other.

Ignorance breeds fear. Fear manifests as hate. Hate is therefore countered by knowledge. Learn from my journey. Support my book and give it to those who need it.

#MakeGoodHappen

— Christian Picciolini

Risks and challenges

As of this writing, the book has been through several drafts of editing with multiple trusted people offering great feedback. I'm fortunate enough to have shared my story with others and gotten some great advice. The only significant challenges I face right now are funding the final copy editing and production/distribution stages of the book. With your help, the project will be funded in time to fulfill for Spring 2015 delivery. Of course, theoretically, manufacturing delays could be a risk, but I will be printing locally to minimize the chance of that happening.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    GOOD KARMA + VIRTUAL HUG + SPECIAL THANKS for your support on www.christianpicciolini.com.

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    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT + EBOOK:
    You will receive a downloadable eBook (Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iPad, or PDF format) version of the book. Your name listed as a Booster supporter in the print and electronic version of the book.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    EARLY BIRD SPECIAL! GET YOUR LIMITED EDITION SOFTCOVER COPY OF THE BOOK:
    You will receive an autographed and personalized Kickstarter-only, softcover copy of the book. Your name will be listed as a BRONZE Level supporter in the print and electronic versions of the book. (Please add additional $10 for shipping outside of the US).

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    DONATE A COPY TO A LIBRARY: One softcover copy of the book will be sent to a local library of your choice. The donation will be made in your name (or not, if you wish to remain anonymous). Your name will be listed as a BRONZE Level supporter in the print and electronic versions of the book. (Please add additional $10 for shipping outside of the US).

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    BUY A COPY FOR A FRIEND: One softcover copy of the book will be sent to whoever you indicate. The gift will be made in your name (or not, if you wish to remain anonymous). Your name (or your friend's) will be listed as a BRONZE Level supporter in the print and electronic versions of the book. (Please add additional $10 for shipping outside of the US).

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    DONATE A COPY TO AN ORGANIZATION OF YOUR CHOICE (Prison, Church, Teen Advocacy, Counselor, Gang support group, Community center, Police station, etc.): One softcover copy of the book will be sent to an organization of your choice. The donation will be made in your name (or not, if you wish to remain anonymous). Your name will be listed as a BRONZE Level supporter in the print and electronic versions of the book. (Please add additional $10 for shipping outside of the US).

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    LIMITED EDITION SOFTCOVER COPY OF THE BOOK + EBOOK:
    You will receive an autographed and personalized Kickstarter-only, softcover copy of the book. You'll also receive a downloadable eBook (Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iPad, or PDF format) version of the book. Your name will be listed as a BRONZE Level supporter in the print and electronic versions of the book. (Please add additional $10 for shipping outside of the US).

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    LIMITED EDITION SOFTCOVER COPY + EBOOK + HANDMADE BOOKMARK: You will receive one autographed and personalized Kickstarter-only, softcover copy of the book. You'll also receive a downloadable eBook (Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iPad, or PDF format) version of the book and one 'Kickstarter only' handmade bookmark. Your name will be listed as a BRONZE Level supporter in the print and electronic versions of the book. (Please add additional $10 shipping outside of the US).

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    GET 1 - GIVE 1 (2 LIMITED EDITION SOFTCOVERS): You will receive one autographed and personalized Kickstarter-only, softcover copy of the book. One additional autographed softcover copy will be sent to whomever you designate once the project closes. Your name will be listed as a BRONZE Level supporter in the print and electronic versions of the book. (Please add additional $10 for shipping outside of the US).

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    LIMITED EDITION HARDCOVER + EBOOK + BOOKMARK: You will receive one autographed and personalized special limited edition hardcover copy of the book. Only 200 made just for Kickstarter. You'll also receive a downloadable eBook (Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iPad, or PDF format) version of the book and one 'Kickstarter only' handmade bookmark. Your name will be listed as a SILVER Level supporter in the print and electronic versions of the book. (Please add additional $15 shipping outside of the US).

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    LIMITED EDITION HARDCOVER + SOFTCOVER + EBOOK + BOOKMARK: You will receive one autographed and personalized special limited edition hardcover copy of the book. Only 200 made just for Kickstarter. You'll also receive an autographed Kickstarter-only, softcover version of the book, a downloadable eBook (Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iPad, or PDF format) version of the book and one limited edition 'Kickstarter only' handmade bookmark. Your name will be listed as a SILVER Level supporter in the print and electronic versions of the book. (Please add additional $20 for shipping outside of the US).

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    LIMITED EDITION HARDCOVER + 5 SOFTCOVER BUNDLE + BOOKMARK: You will receive one autographed and personalized special limited edition hardcover copy of the book. Only 200 made just for Kickstarter. You'll also receive 5 softcover versions of the book (autographed upon request) to gift to colleagues, friends, or members of your book club. In addition, you'll also get a downloadable eBook (Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iPad, or PDF format) version of the book and one limited edition 'Kickstarter only' handmade bookmark. Your name will be listed as a GOLD Level supporter in the print and electronic versions of the book.

    (Please add additional $35 for shipping outside of the US).

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    ONE-ON-ONE PHONE OR VIDEO CONVERSATION + LIMITED EDITION SOFTCOVER BOOK + BOOKMARK: I will personally call you and discuss (or listen to) any topic of your choice with you. You will receive one autographed and personalized softcover version of the book. In addition, you'll also get a downloadable eBook (Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iPad, or PDF format) version of the book and one limited edition 'Kickstarter only' handmade bookmark. Your name will be listed as a GOLD Level supporter in the print and electronic versions of the book. (Please add additional $35 for shipping outside of the US).

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    LIMITED EDITION HARDCOVER + 10 SOFTCOVER BUNDLE: You will receive one autographed and personalized special limited edition hardcover copy of the book. Only 200 made just for Kickstarter. You'll also receive 10 softcover versions of the book (autographed upon request) to gift to colleagues, friends, or members of your book club. In addition, you'll also get a downloadable eBook (Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iPad, or PDF format) version of the book and one limited edition 'Kickstarter only' handmade bookmark. Your name will be listed as a GOLD Level supporter in the print and electronic versions of the book.

    (Please add additional $40 for shipping outside of the US).

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    LIMITED EDITION HARDCOVER + 10 SOFTCOVER BUNDLE + LIVE VIDEO HANGOUT: You will receive one autographed and personalized special limited edition hardcover copy of the book. Only 200 made just for Kickstarter. You'll also receive 10 softcover versions of the book (autographed upon request) to gift to colleagues, friends, or book club members. In addition, you'll also get a downloadable eBook (Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iPad, or PDF format) version of the book and one limited edition 'Kickstarter only' handmade bookmark. Christian Picciolini will also join you for a one hour Google+ Hangout (or Skype) live video Q+A session for you and select groups of your guests. Your name will be listed as a PLATINUM Level supporter in the print and electronic versions of the book. (Please add additional $40 for shipping outside of the US).

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    LIMITED EDITION HARDCOVER + 10 SOFTCOVER BUNDLE + 2 LIVE VIDEO HANGOUTS: You will receive one autographed and personalized special limited edition hardcover copy of the book. Only 200 made just for Kickstarter. You'll also receive 10 softcover versions of the book (autographed upon request) to gift to colleagues, friends, or book club members. In addition, you'll also get a downloadable eBook (Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iPad, or PDF format) version of the book and one limited edition 'Kickstarter only' handmade bookmark. Christian Picciolini will also join you for two separate one hour Google+ Hangout (or Skype) live Q+A video sessions for you and a select group of your guests. Your name will be listed as a PLATINUM Level supporter in the print and electronic versions of the book.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    LIMITED EDITION HARDCOVER + 10 SOFTCOVER BUNDLE + LIVE 2-HOUR IN-PERSON SESSION: You will receive one autographed and personalized special limited edition hardcover copy of the book. Only 200 made just for Kickstarter. You'll also receive 10 softcover versions of the book (autographed upon request) to gift to colleagues, friends, or book club members. In addition, you'll also get a downloadable eBook (Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iPad, or PDF format) version of the book and one limited edition 'Kickstarter only' handmade bookmark. Christian Picciolini will also join you for one 2-hour in-person session for you and a select group of your guests. I will travel to you and come speak with you and a group of guests of your choice. (Modest travel and lodging expenses are not included and may be extra). Your name will be listed as a PLATINUM Level supporter in the print and electronic versions of the book.

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    Pledge $7,500 or more About $7,500

    LIMITED EDITION HARDCOVER + 10 SOFTCOVER BUNDLE + LIVE IN-PERSON FULL DAY SESSION: You will receive one autographed and personalized special limited edition hardcover copy of the book. Only 200 made just for Kickstarter. You'll also receive 10 softcover versions of the book (autographed upon request) to gift to colleagues, friends, conference attendees, or book club members. In addition, you'll also get a downloadable eBook (Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iPad, or PDF format) version of the book and one limited edition 'Kickstarter only' handmade bookmark. Christian Picciolini will also join you for one 8-hour in-person working session for you and a select group of your guests. I will travel to you and come speak with you and a group of guests of your choice. (Travel and lodging expenses are not included and will be extra). Your name will be listed as a PLATINUM Level supporter in the print and electronic versions of the book.

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    BECOME A CHARACTER IN A KIDS BOOK + LIMITED EDITION HARDCOVER + GIVE EVERY CHICAGO RESIDENT ACCESS TO THE BOOK! Your first name will be used and your likeness will be illustrated for my first children's book. Send me a photo of yourself and you will be professionally illustrated and become a character in my next book, a children's storybook about compassion and empathy (estimated delivery on children's book TBD). Your name will be listed as the sole ANGEL Level supporter in the print and electronic versions of the book. You will also receive an autographed and personalized special limited edition hardcover of the book. Only 200 made just for Kickstarter. In addition, you'll get one autographed limited edition softcover copy of the book, a downloadable eBook (Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iPad, or PDF format) version of the book and one 'Kickstarter only' handmade bookmark. Christian Picciolini will also distribute one softcover copy of the book to every one of the 79 Chicago Public Library branches and 106 Chicago public high schools in your name (or anonymous, if you choose).

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Funding period

- (30 days)