Witness to the Revolution

Witness to the Revolution

Radicals, Resisters, Vets, Hippies, and the Year America Lost Its Mind and Found Its Soul

Book - 2016
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"During the academic calendar year of 1969 and 1970, there were 9000 protests and 84 acts of arson or bombings at schools across the country. Two and a half million students went on strike, and 700 colleges shut down. Witness to a Revolution, Clara Bingham's oral history of that year, brings readers into this moment when it seemed that everything was about to change, when the anti-war movement could no longer be written off as fringe, and when America seemed on the brink of a revolution at home, even as it continued to fight a long war abroad. This unique oral history of the late 1960s tells of the most dramatic events of the day in the words of those closest to the action--activists, organizers, criminals, bombers, policy makers, veterans, hippies, and draft dodgers. These chapters are narrative snapshots of key moments and critical groups that sprung up in some of the most turbulent years of the 20th century. As a whole, they capture the essence of an era. They questioned and challenged nearly every aspect of American society--work, capitalism, family, education, male-female relations, sex, science, and wealth--and many of their questions remain important. A sampling of insights: how the killing of four students at Kent State turned a straight social worker into a hippie overnight; how the draft turned Ivy League-educated young men into fugitives and prisoners; how powerful government insiders walked away from their careers; how Vietnam vets came home vowing to stop the war; how, in the name of peace, intellectuals became bombers; how alienation from the establishment and the older generation compelled people to drop out, experiment with psychedelic drugs, and live communally; and how the civil rights and antiwar movements gave birth to feminism"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Random House, 2016.
ISBN: 9780812993189
Branch Call Number: 303.484 BIN
Characteristics: xxxv, 611 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.


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Oct 10, 2017

I'm not sure if we need yet another book about the 60s, although this book finds a somewhat different angle by adopting the oral history format. The advantage it the immediacy of the voices, but the disadvantage is that it can be lacking in context and analysis. The narrative that the participants tell and the author endorses is that the social movements of the decade, many of which originated on campuses (SDS, SNCC, the Free Speech Movement), were rousing successes and there's little about the legacy, both negative and positive. There are many familiar names like Tom Hayden, Jane Fonda, Daniel Ellsberg (The Pentagon Papers), and Seymour Hersh. and Clara Bingham focuses on a tumultuous, epochal period (the 1969-1970 school year), which included the My Lai massacre, the re-election of Nixon, the Manson murders, Altamont, Woodstock, and the increased profile (And government targeting of.) more radical groups like the Weathermen and the Black Panthers. If you're familiar with the period, this doesn't add much. I'd recommend "Days of Rage" for a look at violent protest and "Nixonland" for a look at the political friction of the period.

Oct 26, 2016

The interviews clarified many issues that I didn't understand at the time, especially what happened to SDS. The only missing perspective is from the mainstream antiwar movement which hung together for the big demonstrations but experienced many internecine battles between various New Left groups and parties.

Aug 01, 2016

"For three years, I traveled the country talking to the leaders and foot soldiers of the sixties peace movement." From these conversations, the author offers paragraphs detailing the news of mostly the late 1960s and early 1970s in a form the author describes as a "narrative oral history," gathering personal accounts eventually ringing like they are not necessarily an objective group. The challenge as a reader comes from following a coherent timeline of the era presented. Lots of paragraphs and views leading one to believe many of these names covered had no real answers, just slogans. The real bomb of change went off in 1968. The aftermath plays out in these pages.


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