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IN THE COUNTRY OF OURSELVES by Nat Hentoff

IN THE COUNTRY OF OURSELVES

by Nat Hentoff

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1971
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

A loose tribe of high school revolutionaries (students and teachers), each on his own ego trip, attempts to turn the school around in a series of maneuvers that begins when a black students' club is denied permission to hear a speaker they've invited and culminates in a student strike just before the school year ends. Results of the agitation are a brutal police round-up, the effective betrayal of Ernest, the black leader, the transfer of a radical teacher who is co-conspirator with a cop in some mysterious revolutionary cadre (or could the cop be putting him on?), and the forming of battle lines for the coming school year. With the self-appointed faculty adviser and the jejune student Josh out of the running, with hostile (toward Whitey) and dedicated (to helping his people) Ernest through with "grandstanding," the emerging adversaries are Jane, a committed and independent (but to our mind rather priggishly certain) pacifist student and Rothblatt, the authoritarian principal who at least knows his own head and comes on straight. As in Jazz Country (1965) the characters here are too patly representative of salient positions; they have no reality outside of their game of revolution. Less a novel than a fictionalized nonposition paper, this might yet prod the complacent of any stripe with its savvy reporting of what's going down today -- and maybe coming up tomorrow.