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With ‘Boots in the Ashes,’ one of the first female ATF agents looks back on the murder and mayhem she saw on the job

By September 1, 2020 Entertainment News


She was on just such a track, earning a B.A. in English and American Literature at Northwestern University and an M.S. at its Medill School of Journalism. But new opportunities for women were opening in law enforcement and she joined the ATF in its Minneapolis-St. Paul offices for a few years before coming back to its Chicago area offices. They were strangely exciting years, as captured here, when she writes about the aftermath of the bombing of a judge’s house: “We spent the day digging through mounds of debris containing heavy timber, sections of wall, roof, flooring, carpet, appliances and furniture. … We knelt on the ground and sifted through mounds of ashes, reminding me of charcoal in the bottom of the grill. At times when I look around at the other agents bending over and looking for evidence, I was reminded of playing in the sand when I was a little kid. But instead of building sand castles … we dug out charred rubble and searched for the story it would tell us. It was still fun, but we had a different purpose.”


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