Email this review


Bryan, editor/publisher of the Phoenix, a San Francisco underground paper, at one time played middleman in the complicated negotiations between the SLA and the Randolph Hearsts. Since Patty Hearst presumably converted to the SLA's guerrilla politics, her ""release"" never happened, but it does give Bryan the chance to write this history of the SLA from a hip, underground, antiestablishment perspective. Which is to say, Bryan has difficulty distancing himself from the pseudo-Marxist off-the-pigs rhetoric at all. Joe Remiro, the SLA ""soldier"" who wound up in prison for the murder of Oakland school superintendent Marcus Foster, is Bryan's centerpiece. A former Catholic high school cheerleader, Rimero comes back from Nam doped up and with ""blood in his eye and revenge in his heart."" For three years he is part of the acid-dropping hippie scene of Haight-Ashbury, moving from Vietnam Veterans Against the War to the Ceneceremos underground to the SLA, dividing his time between gun classes, political study sessions and chicks. Bryan takes great pains to show the SLA as the final evolutionary fulfillment of the counterculture and the New Left in the Bay Area radical community--a contention many people in The Movement would regard as sheer bunk. It does give him a chance to recap the entire history of 1960's radicalism from Marlo Savio and the Free Speech Movement. Brief biographies of the eleven known SLA members are inserted; they had finally become sick and tired of ""just talk."" Bryan does venture a few criticisms of the SLA's frequently bungled operations, but he insists they were not some ""freak outcropping."" Probably because of his own involvement, he endows them with far more significance than they deserve. But then, what can you expect from a man who was ""directed"" by the SLA to disseminate communiques to the ""people""? Not much more than revved up propaganda.

Pub Date: May 13th, 1975
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich