The founder of Salon and a writer for The New Yorker explore the 1960s and 1970s through the framework of a second American Revolution, focusing on the era's radical political movements and their leaders, including Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers, Heather Booth of the Jane Collective abortion clinic, Vietnam War peace activists Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda, among others.
Taken as a whole, these engaging profiles suggest that revolutions are rarely a one-time deal ... Simple saviors and canned profiles in courage are not for them. These essays bristle with energy and contention. They enjoy a good rivalry. They’re aware that just about anyone with the gumption to start a movement might not play well with others. But the contributions, more often than not, make them worth the frustration. The chapter on the Black Panthers, Revolution Has Come, Time to Pick Up the Gun, is particularly dynamic ... the Talbots are guided by dogged reporting and an instinct for finding and telling a story. Even if you know these revolutionaries, you’ll find details here to surprise you. They might even make you want to go out and make a difference yourself.
In these self-contained accounts, the authors clearly admire the courage, political savvy, and sheer physical effort required to create and then sustain such critical movements, but they’re also unsparing in saying that mistakes were made ... As a result, the Talbots have created a coherent narrative of mid-century political activism, from which readers can see the through lines of modern-day success or failure, and proceed from there.
Through sharp reporting and good storytelling, the authors enliven a journalistic genre that in less skilled hands might have gone flat ... an abundance of fresh material gives this book an intergenerational appeal ... The authors also vividly portray events ... 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.