An intelligent and sympathetic reappraisal of the political upheavals of the ’60s and ’70s.



Salon founder David Talbot and New Yorker writer Margaret Talbot offer admiring portraits of radical activists who sparked enduring social changes.

Through sharp reporting and good storytelling, the authors enliven a journalistic genre that in less skilled hands might have gone flat: the “Where are they now?” story. They devote a chapter to each of seven flashpoints of the 1960s and ’70s that created “the second American Revolution.” These include Black Power, gay pride, the anti-war movement, the siege of Wounded Knee, the battle for abortion rights, the rise of the United Farm Workers, and the “celebrity activism” embodied by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The authors show how and why each movement unfolded, focusing on key figures like Bobby Seale and Dolores Huerta and describing their subjects’ early activism as well as their later lives. They aim partly to enlighten students, such as those who, a professor lamented, know the Panthers “only by their cool regalia…the black leather coats, the berets, the dark glasses.” But an abundance of fresh material gives this book an intergenerational appeal. In their portrait of the feminist abortion clinic the Jane Collective, the authors note that before Roe v. Wade, one doctor who did abortions took startling safety precautions: “An assistant picked the women up on street corners, blindfolded them, and brought them to undisclosed locations.” The authors also vividly portray events such as Cesar Chavez’s trailblazing efforts to organize grape pickers, Craig Rodwell’s quest to open America’s first gay and lesbian bookstore, and the Ojibwe leader Dennis Banks’ bold escape from Wounded Knee as federal officials swept up Native resisters. Some readers may fault a few of the choices—particularly that of Lennon rather than Bob Dylan as the main representative of “protest songs”—but even the dissenters may appreciate that the authors avoid Allan Bloom–style crankiness in recalling the ’60s and evoke the ’70s without using the word disco.

An intelligent and sympathetic reappraisal of the political upheavals of the ’60s and ’70s.

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-282039-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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