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on December 1, 2003
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz is from Oklahoma--a story told beautifully in her earlier volume, RED DIRT: GROWING UP OKIE. But her views, both in the 1960s and now, don't fit the Okie image. Yet, paradoxically, she would be the first to acknowledge that her Oklahoma background--poor, part Native American, a socialist grandfather--helped in some ways to shape her radicalism. (To be accurate, her radicalism probably resulted in part from reacting AGAINST her Oklahoma background.)
Dunbar-Ortiz has a remarkable ability to place the story of her life in context with "historical events" going on at the time--in this volume, the women's movement, the anti-Vietnam War movement, the "radical underground," etc. I recommended this book to my daughter, herself something of an activist (anti-nuclear power). She read it, loved it, and said one thing that was obvious was that Dunbar-Ortiz had kept a journal, thus enabling her to tell her story in rich detail.
She also has a remarkable ability to grab you and shake you and make you think, to make you reconsider stuff you thought you knew. I've been an Okie for 40 years, wear the label proudly, was an activist to some extent in all four major movements of the 60s (civil rights, anti-Vietnam War, environmental, women's). But I was by no means as radical, AM by no means as radical, as Dunbar-Ortiz. Which is part of why this was such a good book for me to read. You should read it too, whatever your political orientation!
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Ruxanne Dunbar-Ortiz' Outlaw Woman is a memoir of an extraordinary time in U.S. history, and it is one that doesn't get bogged down in accusation, scandal, or idealistic reverie. The roots of contemporary feminism are here. The United States war in Vietnam is here. Navive American and African American struggles are here. And other struggles that shaped generations of U.S. radicals--Cuba, South Africa, Chile, Nicaragua. Roxanne's journey through some of the ear's most important movements and events allows us to revisit those times--whatever our own position, then or now. Outlaw Woman is stark, unrelenting, honest, and evocative--of a time when a diverse subculture cared, a time that should make us proud.
Today, when fear and conformity are being thrust at us like a bludgeon, books like this remind us of who we are and that it is legitimate to struggle for justice, equality, and the retrieval of our true spirits.
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on April 17, 2005
Outlaw Woman is one of literally hundreds of books that describe the "movement" in its varied forms during the 60's and 70's, but it shines among all of them. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's honesty, courage, and commitment to self-definition and truth are a shining example of what the movement could have been and could still be.
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on August 10, 2002
Where were you when Che Guevara was murdered in Bolivia in October 1967? When Valerie Solanas shot Andy Warhol? When Angela Davis was on trial for murder, and acquitted? Vividly Roxanne remembers where she was when these events and a great deal more occurred: She remembers and was involved with most of the germinal struggles of the sixties, including founding the women's liberation movement from a key position in Boston, so that what emerges is a veritable cross-section of the movement in the peak years of the sixties and early seventies, from the point of view not of a reporter but of someone engaged, and whats more, one who herself made things happen that she thought were needed to change the world
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on January 20, 2011
I am horrified by the lack of empathy in this book.The individual suffering caused by "revolutionary" kidnappings and murders seems to mean nothing to Roxana Dunbar-Ortiz. That is one of several tragedies this book expresses. Another is the lack of a responsible Progressive movement with the power to affect the changes we need, from universal health care to wage equity between men and women to an educational system which supports each child in their individual gifts and individual needs.

Dr. Marcus Foster, although deceased through the monstrous cowardice of the Symbionese Liberation Army (whose self-inflicted fate moves Ms. Ortiz more than the loss of Dr.Foster), is still greatly mourned in the San Francisco Bay Area. I speak as a therapeutic horseback riding instructor constantly seeking new ways of reaching my students, and as a good friend of one of Dr. Marcus Foster's colleagues in Oakland.

I also speak as the survivor of three murders of friends and acquaintances. There is nothing revolutionary about the cost of murder. There is also nothing revolutionary about forcible rape and torture, as Ms. Hearst experienced. The fact that women in the SLA participated in the forcible rape and torture of a defenseless nineteen year old girl speaks quite a lot about the "feminists" whose insanity graces Ms. Ortiz' book. Those dead maniacs and monsters are only eclipsed by the female scientist noted in "Outlaw Woman" whose intrepid search for a viral agent "that would kill men only" managed, one hopes, to fail.

Interestingly, since Ms. Ortiz is opposed to state terrorism, she might read the aspects of American history involving the creation of similar viruses and other bio-weapons. Whoever thought that an American "revolutionary" would find equivalence in the most despicable bright savages our government managed to hire?

I am still waiting for the progressive movement that might give this nation some relief. Such a movement is not to be found in "Outlaw Woman".
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on September 6, 2002
Outlaw Woman: A Memoir Of The War Years, 1960-1975 by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz is the personal and autobiographical testimony of a dedicated anti-war organizer, feminist, and New Left activist who rose from a poverty-stricken childhood to dedicate herself to making a difference. Outlaw Woman is very highly recommended reading as a forcefully told, openly honest, and strongly charged saga of one woman's daily struggle to get her message out to and change society itself.
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on September 5, 2002
OUTLAW WOMAN is a vivid and compelling account of the author's journey through the upheaval, hope and ultimate implosion of the 1960s. With a keen eye for detail and a crisp prose style, Dunbar-Ortiz evokes the heady combination of idealism and trauma that defined that era and transformed her from an apolitical, married college student into a notorious feminist leader and later, an underground revolutionary. This is fascinating history, and especially important for young people who are trying to make sense of the socio-political moment in America today. OUTLAW WOMAN is an honest and courageous attempt to examine and reclaim some of the history of an era that still divides and perplexes us thirty years later. A wonderful and
important read.
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on August 11, 2002
Where were you when Che Guevara was murdered in Bolivia in October 1967? When Valerie Solanas shot Andy Warhol? When Angela Davis was on trial for murder, and acquitted? Vividly Roxanne remembers where she was when these events and a great deal more occurred: She remembers and was involved with most of the germinal struggles of the sixties, including founding the women's liberation movement from a key position in Boston, so that what emerges is a veritable cross-section of the movement in the peak years of the sixties and early seventies, from the point of view not of a reporter but of someone engaged, and what's more, one who herself made things happen that she thought were needed to change the world.
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on August 15, 2002
From Madonna Gilbert Thunder Hawk, Lakota activist from the Cheyenne River Sioux reservation, and American Indian Movement (AIM) leader at Alcatraz and Wounded Knee:
I stand in awe of Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. She is a survivor, capital "S". She was there in the middle of it all. Now I understand what was going on with the movement outside of Indian country during those amazing years. The movement press was a lifeline to us in the American Indian Movement so we knew what was going on, but from a distance. Now Outlaw Women is showing it to us through the eyes of someone who lived it.
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on May 24, 2010
This book changed my life, my direction, my goals. It made me see that a life dedicated to work and the movement is not only possible, but necessary. Essential reading for anyone involved in social justice whether it be personal or political. Professor Ortiz has worked across social movements, anti-war, anti-imperialism, militant feminist, within the educational systems and more. Anyone can relate to some aspect of her work and life. Her writing is so good the memoir reads like a well-told story.
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