A capable and compelling memoir of the ’60s and its varied political legacies as reflected in the lives of three survivors.



Parallel biographies of three notorious 1960s graduates of a left-wing New York high school.

The Little Red School House, in Greenwich Village, was founded in 1932 by committed leftists and expanded into the Elisabeth Irwin High School 10 years later. In her debut, journalist and “Little Red” alumna Hampton traces the lives of three of the high school’s graduates: Angela Davis, ’61, and Tom Hurwitz and Elliott Abrams, both ’65. In the early ’60s, the school hewed to an old-left, Marxist line, to which these three students responded very differently. Davis, who entered in her junior year after living in segregated Birmingham, found classic communism a revelation to which she has steadfastly clung. Hurwitz, instrumental in the seizure of buildings at Columbia University by Students for a Democratic Society and later in the GIs Against the Vietnam War movement, chafed under the old thinking and reveled in the frenetic activity of the New Left—until he found himself on the receiving end of some Maoist criticism and was ejected from a California collective for being insufficiently revolutionary. Abrams began his political odyssey as a Humphrey liberal and ended as a prominent neoconservative, brought down by the Iran-Contra scandal and still widely vilified by other alumni. Hampton ably maintains an evenhanded respect for her subjects’ widely varying political positions as she explores their evolution over the years, but it is her narrative skills that truly shine. Her evocation of the heady, impulsive spirit of the university-building–occupation era, awash in drugs, sex and over-the-top Marxist rhetoric, is pitch-perfect. Davis’ arrest and 1972 trial for murder in the death of a California judge are presented as a gripping courtroom thriller, counterbalanced later by the inexorable pursuit of Abrams by special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh.

A capable and compelling memoir of the ’60s and its varied political legacies as reflected in the lives of three survivors.

Pub Date: March 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-1586480936

Page Count: 336

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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