Len Bracken is the author of four novels that move from glasnost Moscow to fall-of-the-wall Berlin, on to the mid-nineties protests in Paris and Barcelona, then to the 2000 U.S. presidential election in Washington, D.C. Although the author has never had a public reading of his novels or done much to promote them, Snitch Jacket nonetheless received coverage from the Associated Press (2006) as well as many small journals.
Born on Andrews Air Force Base (1961), Bracken attended grade school in Rhode Island, Florida and Greece, and high school in California, Virginia and Switzerland. He is a graduate of George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs and has a professional editing certificate from the same university. A student of foreign languages, Bracken studied Russian in Moscow, French in Paris at the Sorbonne, and, less formally, Spanish during sojourns in Spain, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. He has lived in or visited over twenty-five countries.
In 2000 Bracken joined the copy desk of the Daily Report for Executives, published by the Bureau of National Affairs, where he received extensive training in legal journalism.* Bracken was the company’s daily beat reporter at the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve during the financial turmoil that erupted in the summer of 2007 into early 2008. Since the spring of 2010 to present, he has reported for the firm that is now Bloomberg BNA on a wide array of trade policy issues—export controls, sanctions, foreign investment in the United States, export financing, tariff preferences, World Trade Organization dispute settlement and negotiations on agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Bracken's most recent public appearances include a 2014 roundtable briefing at Georgetown University on developments in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations and a 2012 talk to the McClendon Group at the National Press Club on the Sarkozy-Hollande transition in France. He has also made situationist-related presentations at the Aquarium L-13 art gallery in London (2003) and the Haçienda nightclub in Manchester (1996). Bracken has been a member in good standing of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild since early 2001.
Len Bracken is also the author of one of the first widely distributed books published in the United States suggesting the September 2001 skyjack attacks were the work of government provocateurs. Shadow Government: 9-11 and State Terror—reviewed in the Village Voice, September 2002—presents the “state-terror thesis” and describes the event as an “indirect defensive attack,” developing the offensive-defensive theory of terrorism created by Guy Debord and Gianfranco Sanguinetti. Bracken is the author of the first biography in any language on Debord (Guy Debord—Revolutionary, 1997) and has translated a book by Sanguinetti (The Real Report on the Last Chance to Save Capitalism in Italy: 1975; trans. 1997).
The kamikaze-style attacks, according to Bracken, must always be seen in connection with the anthrax-poisoned letters as interlocking stratagems by the established power designed to gain more power and as a pretext for going on the offensive. He made this case as a featured expert in the Russian film Citadel 911 (Цитадель 911) that was released on the ten-year anniversary of the attacks. Bracken is also the author of what is likely the first general theory of civil war (Arch Conspirator, 1998), which he presented in May 2002 at Johns Hopkins University.
On September 11, 2001, Bracken was in Riga, Latvia as part of the citywide Untitled anti-consumerist exhibition. His subsequent pamphlet, Dialectical Hedonism, posits pain and pleasure in rest and movement as the essential categories of existence. As a translator of Paul Lafargue’s Right to Be Lazy (1883; trans. 1989) and writer-director of the dramatic film The Lazy Ones (2003 and several revised versions), Bracken hopes that through the pleasures of resisting the consumer economy people will successfully oppose the strategy of tension. Failure to do so runs the risk of martial law and forced labor in detention camps similar to those described in his 2006 essay “New China Syndrome,” the first in-depth study of China’s economic, social and environmental transformation covering 1979-2005 or a similar period.
During the nineties Bracken published the journal Extraphile, which was noted in The New Yorker in 1995, and over the years his writing has appeared in publications as diverse as the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory and the London-based Principia Dialectica. His latest major essay is a book chapter, “Schmitt, Ergenekon, and the Neocons,” in a 2012 work that is part of Ashgate Publishing’s International and Comparative Criminal Justice Series: The Dual State: Parapolitics, Carl Schmitt and the National Security Complex, edited by Eric Wilson.
Bracken’s nonfiction has been covered by newspapers such as the Washington City Paper (1998; 2004), the Washington Post (1994; 2003) and Le Monde (2013).
In addition to the translations cited above, Bracken has made an interpretation of Omar Khayyam’s poetry, Persian Love, a partial reading of which is on YouTube along with three other videos: one of Bracken as the lyricist and vocalist of the 1990s underground rock band Access Five; another video of the author reading an excerpt from Snitch Jacket; and a third video that attempts to give poetic expression to historiosophy, the speculative philosophy of history. A brief video with the author reading The East Is Black is on Vimeo.
Access to some of Bracken’s out-of-print and otherwise unavailable œuvre is possible via the Joseph A. Labadie Collection, which is housed at the University of Michigan library, and via the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam.
* BNA classes in: basic news and legal story writing; style; headlines; sources and attributions; legal citations; governmental, legislative, and judicial processes; economic indicators; surveys and statistics; editing longer pieces; interviews; libel; and covering meetings. Bracken has also attended numerous continuing legal education seminars on international trade and export control law.