A spirited history of urban unrest that laid the groundwork and inspiration for future activists and reformers.



A vivid portrait of Los Angeles during a turbulent decade.

MacArthur fellow Davis (Old Gods, New Enigmas: Marx’s Lost Theory, 2018, etc.) and Start Making Sense podcast host Wiener (Emeritus, History/Univ. of California, Irvine; How We Forgot the Cold War: A Historical Journey Across America, 2012, etc.) experienced firsthand the political, cultural, and social upheavals that roiled LA in the 1960s. Davis was the Los Angeles regional organizer for Students for a Democratic Society and a member of the Southern California branch of the Communist Party. Wiener, who had participated in anti-war and civil rights activism from the time he was in high school, arrived in LA in 1969, quickly becoming a reporter for Liberation News Service, which provided to underground and college papers around the country reports about strikes, anti-war protests, and incendiary events such as the efforts of the California regents to fire philosophy professor Angela Davis. In addition to their own recollections, the authors mine abundant archival sources and interviews to create a richly detailed portrait of a city that seethed with rebellious energy. Much of that energy came from civil rights activists, with LA serving as “a major laboratory for the Black Power experiment.” Building on “the template of Black nationalism,” Mexican Americans redefined themselves as Chicanas/os, fashioning their own ideology and identity, as did Asian Americans, who lobbied for ethnic studies programs and, at UCLA, published a monthly newspaper that publicized the Asian American movement. Feminist groups—liberal, radical, and socialist—burgeoned, as well. Because the Los Angeles Times “was firmly and loudly right-wing,” the LA Free Press emerged as the nation’s first and most influential underground paper, disseminating news about racial unrest (such as the Watts uprising of 1965), gay rights (such as the founding, in 1966, of a group calling itself Personal Rights in Defense and Education, or PRIDE), and the repressive actions of the police department, mayor, and the state’s governor, Ronald Reagan.

A spirited history of urban unrest that laid the groundwork and inspiration for future activists and reformers.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-78478-022-7

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Verso

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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