STEAL THIS DREAM

ABBIE HOFFMAN AND THE COUNTERCULTURE REVOLUTION AGAINST AMERICA

Abbie Hoffman, cut and pasted—and so made whole. This Edie-style oral biography by Howard Stern collaborator Sloman (also the author of Thin Ice, not reviewed, etc.) consists of hundreds of quotations from dozens of interviewees, including Hoffman, who died in 1989. The assembled cast includes Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, William Kunstler, Tom Hayden, Daniel Ellsberg, G. Gordon Liddy, Jerry Rubin, Grace Slick, and Hoffman’s siblings, parents, wives, and children. Hoffman, a Worcester, Mass., native and sexually experienced Brandeis student in the 1950s went on to become an organizer in Mississippi for the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee. Later, in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, he fell in with the Diggers, a group of actors-turned-activists, soon thereafter gaining his first major exposure with future Yippies co-leader Jerry Rubin at a photo-op money-burning at the New York Stock Exchange in 1967. As Art Goldberg puts it, after his trial for his role in the 1968 Chicago Democratic convention riots, Hoffman was more than a radical, he was a media celebrity. Later, he befriended John Lennon and Yoko Ono, became an outlaw and a hustler, and drifted into drug-dealing. Busted in the ’70s, he went underground for much of the decade. Sloman’s choice of the oral biography technique, on one level an exceedingly lazy, and sometimes confusing, approach (the reader is given zero context for most speakers or their comments), comes to seem an eminently reasonable device for writing the life of the radical activist and author whose own literary works tended to aspire toward “anti-books.— Readers will feel for Hoffman’s son, America, who after his father’s death wished he could just talk to Abbie, man to man. And Ginsberg neatly analyzes the subject’s legacy when he says Hoffman’s idea for social revolution was premature, noting that its fruition came in eastern Europe 20 years later. Through sometimes contradictory voices and fractured perspectives, Hoffman as a person, with his moral strength and personal vulnerabilities, slowly—and surprisingly—comes into a sort of focus. (40 b&w photos) (Author tour)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-41162-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1998

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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