FIRE IN THE STREETS: America in the 1960s by Milton Viorst

FIRE IN THE STREETS: America in the 1960s

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The most ambitious account of the disruptive decade yet--which encompasses almost all of the furor and conveys almost none of the excitement. Viorst has opted for a chronological scheme, keyed to salient figures, that both spotlights and q the decade's events: John Lewis (""Sitting In, 1960""); James Farmer (""Freedom Riding, 1961""); Tom Hayden (""Manifesto Writing, 1962""), Bayard Rustin (""Marching to Washington, 1963""); Joseph Rauh, Jr. (""Organizing Mississippi, 1964""); Clark Kerr (""Igniting Berkeley, 1964""); Paul Williams (""Exploding Watts, 1965""); Stokely Carmichael (""Blackening Power, 1966""); Allard Loewenstein (""Dumping Johnson, 1967""); Jerry Rubin (""Assaulting Chicago, 1968""). Plus: two unknowns representing the Weathermen (1969) and Kent State (1970). On the plus side, almost every development is somehow fitted in and Viorst does attempt a balanced assessment of such controversial personalities as Rustin, Carmichael, and Martin Luther King. (His introductory chapter on 'the other leader of the Montgomery bus boycott, community-organizer--and sleeping car porter--E. D. Nixon, is perhaps his best). On the debit side, Viorst is a pappy, colorless writer with no knack for portraying individuals. His sections on Allen Ginsberg and Jerry Rubin are obtuse and humorless; and seldom do we get a sense of the decade's intense moral concern. But in the absence of a bona fide history of even the civil rights movement, this will do to clue in latecomers and refresh fading memories.

Pub Date: Jan. 30th, 1980
Publisher: Simon & Schuster