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DESTRUCTIVE GENERATION: Second Thoughts About the '60s Paperback – August 12, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0684826417 ISBN-10: 0684826410 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (August 12, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684826410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684826417
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,804,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

A compilation of memoirs and reportage on the New Left, valuable for its insider insights on New Left strategy and tactics. The authors, celebrated biographers of the Fords, Kennedys, and Rockefellers, primarily use interviews and personal recall to reconstruct an era when moral causes summoned many, but where a willful minority dominated the parapets of activism. Their account might have been enriched with greater psychological analysis of those in the New Left, although their simple analogy of the Left as "like those Japanese soldiers who wandered for years in the jungle, unaware that they had lost the war" may be a more biting explanation. A readable recounting of lost times, lost souls, and lost opportunities. Recommended reading for the politically innocent. Conservative Book Club selection.
- James L. Jablonowski, Marquette Univ., Milwaukee
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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This book will head my gift list for a long time to my friends and family.
Chandler Gardiner
After reading this book (and others by these authors)I have a deeper understanding of modern US history and appreciate the candor with which the books are written.
Mary Miner
The life of Fay Stender, a lawyer/groupie of the Black Panthers, teaches the reader just how much ideological blindness can bring a person down.
Bernard Chapin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 15, 1998
Format: Paperback
As far as I know, this is a unique book. It is an important document for those who want to understand the politics of the Sixties and what has happened since. It is also an antidote to the romanticized versions of the period that are all too common in books, movies, and personal storytelling.
At its best, when the authors provide reportage on the events of the period--and keep their commentary to a minimum--it is a devastating indictment of the nihilism and recklessness of some of the leading actors. The chapters on the Black Panthers and Weatherman are particularly strong.
In the later chapters, the sweeping statements about "the Left" become too broad and tend to condemn too many for too much. Not everyone who protested the Vietnam War was a Stalinist or endorsed terrorism. And not everyone who views the period differently than the authors is motivated by dishonesty and moral cowardice.
To the authors' credit, they include a telling annecdote: t! ! hey confront the writer Susan Sontag at a book festival, and finally, she refuses to talk to them any further, expressing frustration with their "Manichaean" view of politics. A fair-minded reader can appreciate Sontag's comment, even agree with it, without dismissing the book.
By the time they wrote this book in the late 1980s, Collier and Horowitz had a lot to get off their chests: "second thoughts" about their radicalism in the Sixties, disgust with the refusal of former comrades to critically examine their own political involvements, and a need to settle scores with those who had shunned them since they broke ranks with their radical friends.
That striving for vindication, and the need to be listened to, has an obsessive quality that comes through in this book.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Greg on February 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
In Destructive Generation, Peter Collier and David Horowitz put together an account of 60s radicalism that acts as an excellent antidote to the songs of U2 or Howard Zinn's chic People's History of the United States. The book goes a long way toward discrediting the fantasy of the 60s as a time of idealism and harmless rebellion, and resurrects the nearly forgotten "dark side" of the 60s.
At times, the book reads almost like a latter-day version of Dostoevsky's classic, the Devils. Like the Devils, the radicals portrayed in Destructive Generation -- notably Huey Newton, Bernadine Dohrn, Billy Ayers and Tom Hayden -- seem to behave the way they do not because they believe in revolution, but because they hate the system and they seem to be fascinated by nihilism and violence. The chapters on the Panthers and the Weatherman are the most instructive, while Horowitz's "letter to a political friend" is the most moving part of the book. If you are looking for the antithesis to Noam Chomsky, you will find it here.
The only drawback to the book is the way in which it uses sources. Footnotes are sparse, and paraphrases are often vague. Because of this, the book reads like one long editorial, rather than a work of history. One hopes that Collier and Horowitz will return to this work and create a second edition, with better notation.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 3, 1997
Format: Paperback
Must read for anyone who overslept and missed the riots at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. If you always wanted to know what it was like to hang with the Panthers, but couldn't find the Ramparts office, get a peek inside those romantic days of yore. Of course Horowitz and Collier may not remember quite the way you heard it on the street back then, but, hell, what do they know? huh? If you figure the millions massacred after the US left Nam got what they deserved, this book is not for you. But if you're willing to take an honest look at the consequences of the 60's and more, plug in the coffee pot, unplug the phone, and dive in. Very, very thought provoking
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95 of 117 people found the following review helpful By Eugene A Jewett on July 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
How does it feeeelll... To be on your own... no direction known... like a rollin' stone...
This Dylan lyric depicts the disarray in which the intellectual Left finds itself in the aftermath of voluminous setbacks over the past century. David Horowitz and Peter Collier recount their personal intellectual metamorphoses' as they wend their way through the chapters of "Destructive Generation."
They begin with a particularly heartfelt portrayal of a Leftist attorney, Fay Stender, trying to do good for poor black victims of a racist society. What Stender fails to comprehend, which leads to one of the purported victims shooting her in a bizarre ritual of hatred for all white people, is that these victims are thugs who prey on the very people she presumes she represents. Her actions are borne of a fatal miscalculation of murderers like Jonathan Jackson and his friends. This story, skillfully related by H&C, shows that the law of unintended consequences always seems to prevail, and often fatally, when put to the test by Left-Liberal nostrums. They next visit the rise and fall of the Weather underground, Huey Newton, and the Black Panthers, all grisly stories with a less than savory end.
The Second section of the book deals with how the Left-liberal press poses as a 5th column for America's Marxist intellectuals. It shows how their intellectual allegiance to the social policy concepts of Marxist regimes leads them to conspire to deceive the American public. Their goal is shown to be undeniably subversive to America's national interest. Prominent public figures of the Left mentioned here include man of the cloth William Sloane Coffin, former Democratic congressman from Oakland Calif. Ron Dellums and his aide Carlottia Scott, NYT journalist Anthony Lewis, and former Dem. Cong.
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