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On her 8th birthday, Mei Shigenobu’s mother sat her daughter down and told her that she was the leader of the Japanese Red Army Faction, a group of revolutionary Marxists fighting to violently overthrow global capitalism. It was part of a very unconventional childhood.

Mei grew up in Palestine, hunted by Japanese authorities and Israeli secret agents, rarely far from war and death. She lived with refugees and political dissidents. The normal background sound, for much of her early life, was “machine guns,” she recalls in a recent interview.

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