NEVER STOP RUNNING by William H. Chafe


Allard Lowenstein and the Struggle to Save American Liberalism
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 A compelling life and psychological portrait of Allard Lowenstein--a prime architect of the 60's civil-rights and antiwar movements--that tells a larger story as well: of postwar American liberalism's optimistic rise and disappointing fall. Raised in a hothouse family atmosphere by an adoring stepmother and a demanding father, the youthful Lowenstein, Chafe (History/Duke; The Unfinished Journey, 1985, etc.) tells us, suffered from feelings of inferiority and a tortured awareness of his repressed homosexuality. At the University of North Carolina, he swiftly became consumed with student politics, leading drives to desegregate the Chapel Hill campus and repudiating both the extreme right-wing views and the Communist-tinged leftism that dominated student organizations in the postwar period. Other key aspects of Lowenstein's personality soon emerged: intense and gregarious, he formed hundreds of close friendships, and he came to define his political outlook as a conflict between good (Lowenstein) and evil (anyone who disagreed with him). After obtaining a Yale Law degree, Lowenstein went frenetically from job to job: establishing an international anti-Communist student organization; making a daring trip through South Africa and writing a well-received book about the experience (Brutal Mandate); acting as a gadfly dean at Stanford; giving pivotal support to the Mississippi ``Freedom Summer'' of 1964; playing a crucial part in the successful ``dump Johnson'' crusade. Lowenstein befriended Robert Kennedy; the senator's assassination and Nixon's victory in 1968, the same year that Lowenstein was elected to his only term in Congress, were watershed events for Lowenstein, permanently disillusioning him. The rest of his life was a series of disappointments: He ran unsuccessfully for Congress several more times, and his strained marriage broke up. Finally, in 1980, just as he was starting to come to terms with his changed circumstances and sexual orientation, he was assassinated by an insane former Stanford associate. A finely written, saddening look at a complex idealist, and at what when wrong with him--and with America. (Photographs)

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1993
ISBN: 0-465-00103-3
Page count: 592pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1993