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Mostly on the Edge: An Autobiography Hardcover – April 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 409 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; 1st edition (April 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573926876
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573926874
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,297,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Karl Hess (1923-1994) was a celebrated civil libertarian whose journalism career and American activism helped define key political movements over three decades.


His son, Karl Hess Jr. (Las Cruces, NM), is a leading global environmentalist and lecturer whose writings have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Reason, and a number of other publications. Working from extensive notes and personal experience, he completed Mostly on the Edge, which was unfinished at the time of his father's death.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jay Zane on September 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
In 1976 I had the opportunity to write a review for Karl Hess' "Dear America," and this new autobiography contains much of the same material covered in that first autobiography. I had hoped for a more personal glimpse into his family life but strangely only about two sentences are devoted to his first marriage which produced two sons. It was odd that Mr. Hess could not even mention his first wife's name. His relationship with his sons is also largely ignored. These omissions, together with little or no discussion of such historical figures such as Nixon, Reagan, Ford, and Carter and their respective policies, made the book less than it could have been. HOWEVER, "Dear America" is out of print! Also, one must keep in mind that this book was put together while Mr. Hess was suffering from his terminal heart disease and was basically unfinished at the date of his death. His son, Karl Hess, Jr. has performed a labor of love by getting this book out on the market. It is a treat to read about Mr. Hess' early days and I believe that portion of the book was completed while his health was fairly good. I also enjoyed his discussions about his conversion from the right to the left and how the right and left have much in common. I consider Karl Hess to be one of unsung heroes of this century's political scene - a thinking political and moral man - all at the same time! I had hoped for his observations and his comments on the Nixon regime, Watergate, Reaganomics, etc. but I am still content with this autobiography and recommend it to anyone interested in Karl Hess, a 20th century Thoreau.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ted J. Tipton on August 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The late Karl Hess was a fascinating figure. An old Right activist, ghostwriter for Barry Goldwater who traveled in the highest circles of the GOP. After 1964 he became dissillusioned with the Republican's and became involved with the New Left. Never giving up his old principles of liberty and independence he became a small "l" libertarian figure and developed a reputation as a "gentle Anarchist."

Hess later would become a capital "L" Libertarian, editing the party newspaper. He became involved in social ecology movements and never earned the money he was capable of due to his Tax Resistance. Those who knew him speak with great admiration and those who now read him will as well. I certainly do.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Ross on July 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
To know Karl Hess is to have observed a life in a sincere search of truth. Sparked by his private education by an extroadinary mother, Karl rose to the highest levels of journalism, rode beside Goldwater throughout his campaign and worked at the edge of power and social change for over five decades. A most extrodinary and unforgetable speaker, he had a unique gift to enlighten and amuse any who heard him. Read his works and better understand our place in history.
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By A Customer on July 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Karl Hess's journey through the 20th Century takes the reader through the intellectual development of a self-taught genius. His optimistic brand of community life is a model for the 21st century.
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I have two main gripes about this book:
1) It wasn't particularly well written -- there were reflections, within reflections, and all sorts of lengthy non-essential asides -- especially in the earlier chapters. Ironically, several of these annoying interludes occurred when the author was talking about what it takes to be a good writer!
2) The author stuck me as somewhat hypocritical. How can you be a libertarian as well as a major proponent of the bill of rights and yet be an unapologetic collaborator with the HUAC & Joe McCarthy? It seems to me pretty hypocritical to be a rabid anti-communist and participating in the ruin of people who were utilizing their 1st Amendment Rights, but expressing a view that the author just happened to disagree with.
There were hints at real humanity and a number of interesting ideas, but I had hoped for more stuff about his time in WV, his refusal to pay taxes, his interest in self-sufficiency, etc. I'll try to find "Dear America" and see if it has more of what I was looking for.
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