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Flying Close to the Sun: My Life and Times as a Weatherman Hardcover – September 4, 2007


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Flying Close to the Sun: My Life and Times as a Weatherman + Fugitive Days: Memoirs of an Antiwar Activist
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press; A Seven Stories Press 1st Ed edition (September 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583227717
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583227718
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 6.3 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #903,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

CATHY WILKERSON was active in the civil rights movement, Students for a Democratic Society, and the Weathermen. In 1970, she was one of two women to survive an explosion in the basement of her family’s townhouse that killed three Weathermen, forcing the group underground. For the past twenty years she has worked as a mathematics educator in New York City schools.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Sue Ella Kobak on January 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
There were parts of the book that I really liked. Her writing is very good and her research regarding those times was well based. I too grew up at that time and was in the same circles to a much much lessor extent than she. There were no experiences easily available at that time to teach us how to even understand A revolution happened regarding class, women,and more particularly racism during the 60s and early 70s. That does not even include music, dance, art, the economy, etc. We were all being educated extensively, intellectually and by new experiences, and more importantly including some real effective organizing skills. We had more money and resources in a way our parents never had available when they were our age. What we did with those opportunities resulted in some significant change. I had hoped that Cathy would talk about her experiences with this revolution in a more personal way. I think she did an excellent job explaining how and why she intellectually made the decisions she made. That was good and helpful, but I still don't know much about Cathy and how she experienced this meaningful time based on her own experience as an upper middle class person whose whole understanding of the world was turned upside down by the efforts to affect power in this country. I do recommend this book, but don't expect to know Cathy Wilkerson much better than what we already knew. Her place in the weatherman organization is confirmed and understanding how decisions were made becomes very clear. That information clearly helps us understand the Weathermen and what influnced their activity.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Daniel W. Helpingstine on January 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Flying Close to the Sun was an interesting look at how SDS and other anti-war activists decided that confrontation, even violent confrontation was the only true way to exact meaningful politcal change. It also showed that many new leftists were anti-Vietnam war but not anti-war. I am sure many would be all too comfortable in the culture wars of today.

Ms. Wilkerson comes across as a person with strong beliefs and a true committment to back them up with action. Yet, she also comes across as self-absorbed and naive. She didn't seem concerned that her father's town house had been destroyed and that other innocent people could have been killed. She acknowledged that her cohorts had shown terrible judgement in messing with explosives but didn't seem to realize the town house explosian damaged the anti-war movement and helped move this country to the right.

The book was still a great read and did a nice job of describing the political climate of the late sixties. It showed, through her own strainted family relations, the dynamics of what was then labeled as the "generation gap." Yet, at times I thought the book wasn't reflective enough even though it looked back events almost 40 years old.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Ellen D. Murphy on June 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
If you want to know about the endless internecine conflicts in SDS, you'll find lots to absorb you here. If you're looking for an account that captures the energy of that era and the emotional evolution of a participant, look elsewhere. The writer's clunky, oddly detached, heavily rhetorical style doesn't engage the imagination; it comes to life only briefly, when she describes the townhouse explosion from which she escaped. She spends a lot of time exonerating and justifying herself in retrospect, chronicling the many reservations she said she had about Weatherman's tactics and analysis but that she suppressed at the time. Not much illumination of the era or of the writer.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Peace Out on May 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
After finishing this book, Kathy Wilkerson comes off as a emotionless plebe, who rationalized every bad decision she made with some deep rooted revolutionary mantra of the 60's even though she had no clue what it all really meant. She had sex with anyone that she was "ordered" too (both men and women) because for some unknown reason this would bring all of the her comrades together.

Even though she had never meet Fred Hampton, his murder in Chicago, prompted her to take up bomb building that eventually killed three of her "comrades." Unfortunately, she represented an organization (SDS and later the Weatherman) that were lead by egotistic men and women who's historical accomplishments were absolutely of no value because the movement had no real roots (other than white middle class brats).

As a college student attending school between 1966-1970, and being in Chicago in the summer of 1968, I, too, was part of the anti-war movement. This book does capture and articulate much of the reasoning behind the movement as well as the civil rights movement.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ernesto Aguilar on April 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The Weathermen were an offshoot of Students for a Democratic Society, one of the 1960s' most active anti-war groups. But the Weathermen differed with their radical counterparts in calling for revolution against the United States immediately -- first, because political conditions, they felt, were right, and second, to draw police attention off the Black Panther Party and African-American organizers. The Weathermen waged a largely successful guerrilla campaign in the United States,

Author Wilkerson was intimately involved in the Weathermen. She eventually served prison time for crimes committed during that period, after coming out of hiding in 1980 and turning herself in. Wilkerson's life, activism and the tumultuous period in which the Weathermen operated are the subjects of this book.

Wilkerson writes about her personal growth, political contradictions and struggle to find a place in a revolutionary movement that was largely male dominated and filled with its own contradictions. Inside herself, Wilkerson fights feelings of guilt over her well-off status, and questions the rhetoric of the Weathermen in comparison to the practices she sees in the organization. Many of its members, though intelligent and psychologically strong, were involved in activities most people would never experience, and all often faced varied political, moral and ethical questions, which Wilkerson discusses candidly. This text contains her firsthand account of the 1970 Greenwich Village explosion that catapulted the Weathermen into the national spotlight. In addition, this is one of the few books on the Weathermen in which the author so forwardly addresses the status of men in power and the position of women in the group. At times, Wilkerson's recollections are less than flattering, Yet, it is these stories, and the other tales told as part of a one-of-a-kind life journey, that make this text worth reading.
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