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Radical Son: A Journey Through Our Times from Left to Right Hardcover – February 10, 1997

4.4 out of 5 stars 153 customer reviews

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Raised to be a committed Marxist by communist intellectual parents, Horowitz was in on the ground floor of Berkeley activism, and through his work as an editor at Ramparts magazine, he emerged as a key player in the New Left. He went on to become an active supporter of the Black Panthers and something of an intimate of their founder, Huey P. Newton. Yet today he is an outspoken political conservative who has supported many right-wing causes (such as the contras in Nicaragua) and been critical of '60s radicalism in general. It would be easy to conclude that Horowitz went from A to Z this way because he's superficial and unstable. Instead, as this moving, intellectual autobiography shows, his second thoughts about leftism emerged gradually as he experienced various aspects of the "Movement." The catalytic episode came when he discovered that the Panthers had murdered a friend of his, but even then Horowitz was slow to convert, primarily because he was heavily enmeshed in what he now views as the quintessential leftist habit of judging politics by its intentions, not its acts.

From Publishers Weekly

Horowitz (The Rockefellers) has prominently charted his turn from leftism in Destructive Generation (both books co-written with Peter Collier), but here, he digs deeper to recount his intertwined personal and political odysseys. Because he has witnessed some elemental political battles, and because he tells his often painful story with candor and passion, his lengthy book remains absorbing. His teacher parents were New York City Jewish Communists full of angst and false conviction; young David emerged convinced at least that ideas were important. Married, Horowitz moved to Berkeley for graduate school, the New Left and Ramparts, the hot radical magazine. However, family man Horowitz was made uneasy by figures such as Michael Lerner and Robert Scheer, who rejected community; worse, though Horowitz found Huey Newton's courting of his advice seductive, he fell into "internal free-fall" when he realized that the Panthers were criminal thugs. His Jewish identity?at a time when blacks and the Third World were not allies?helped move Horowitz rightward, as did his disgust with dogmatic leftists. And in 1985, Horowitz and Collier publicly supported Ronald Reagan; the author considers himself a classical liberal. Particularly interesting is his score-settling with authors Todd Gitlin, Tom Hayden and Paul Berman, who, he argues, either sanitize '60s history or misrepresent his own views; now, with the help of foundations, he runs the magazine Heterodoxy and monitors what he views as liberal excess.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (February 10, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 068482793X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684827933
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It is no surprise that David Horowitz is viciously despised on the left. He now attacks the left with the same persistence and self-righteousness that he once employed in service of radical causes. I can't help but notice, however, that many of his leftist critics choose to explain him in personal, psychological terms rather than discussing the truth of his claims about the left. Perhaps Horowitz leaves himself open to such an interpretation by including so much non-political material--his estrangement from his parents, his broken marriages--in his story. I believe the more important issues of contention are his various claims about the intentions and integrity of the leaders of the New Left, such as Tom Hayden, or their complicity in despicable acts of violence. His charges about the death of Betty Van Patter at the hands of the Black Panthers have brought a bitter exchange with some of his former comrades at salon.com. Say what you will about Horowitz, he is at least no coward and does not shrink from the most difficult issues. This book is important, because it is a necessary antidote to all the romanticized and hagiographic presentations of the sixties and its leaders stuffed down our throats by some of the Baby Boomers--too many people my age seem to swallow the myth that the sixties were about a bunch of idealistic, naive young people fighting against an oppressive system.
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Format: Paperback
(...) Radical Son is much more than an autobiography. It is a first-hand chronicle of the roots of the modern progressive movement, from one of the people who helped create it. His fascinating account of his parents in a communist cell in 1940’s New York will keep the thoughtful reader spellbound, and his insider account of the radical movement in sixties Berkeley is fascinating, enlightening, and highly entertaining. From Paul Robeson to Tom Hayden, from Bertrand Russell to Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver, many of the famous, almost fabulous, names that have come to represent the sixties radical culture appear in this book, stripped of their half-mythical trappings and presented as the often deeply flawed people they really were.
Read this book. You’ll learn a lot that you didn’t know before, and you’ll enjoy the ride.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was so absorbing that I found it difficult to put down, reading several chapters before even leaving the bookstore. The amazon.com review of "Radical Son" does the author, David Horowitz, an injustice since every autobiography will potentially subject its author to accusations of self-absorbation, self-importance, or denial. However, contrary to that critical review, Horowitz is as painfully honest about himself and his own mistakes and personal shortcomings, as he is about those of his parents, friends, and former comrades in the New Left.
"Radical Son" is much more, however, than the political mea culpa of a former Berkley radical turned Reagan conservative. It is an invaluable political history of the Sixties' New Left Movement. Horowitz chronicles how his intellectual parents and their friends-- mostly immigrants or first-generation Americans --were drawn to the Communist Party in the 1920's and 1930's; how they passed their idealism and radical beliefs on to their children before becoming disillusioned themselves after Stalin's crimes were revealed in the Khruschev Report in 1956; and how those children-- including himself, Peter Collier, Todd Gitlin, Bob Scheer, Jerry Rubin and many others --established the New Left in the early 1960's, to replace the discredited "Old Left" of their parents' generation and to rehabilitate the Marxist idea.
Horowitz further points out why the revolution sought by the New Left never materialized-- the fantasy of utopian marxist-socialism could not overcome the reality of the bloody, totalitarian communist regimes. Revelations of the blood bath in Vietnam and the rest of Indochina, following the communist victories there, soon reached the West.
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Format: Paperback
`Radical Son' by David Horowitz is a stellar thought provoking work and a poignant first hand account of a life in many ways, dominated by non-conformity. Horowitz weaves the story of his life beginning with his formative New York years being raised in a strict Communist household through his Marxist revolutionary days in the counter-culture epicenter that was Berkeley, CA right up to his current status as a devoted fighter for academic freedom and honest intellectual dialogue. His life story is as compelling as any you'll find; from the relationships with former comrades including Tom Hayden, Bob Scheer and Black Panther leader Huey Newton to his long friendship and ultra-successful writing partnership with Peter Collier.

Sneak behind the scenes of the politically supercharged decade that was the `60's straight through the anti-communist Reagan dominated `80's. You'll experience the pain of loss and disillusionment with a life spent fighting the wrong battles and coming to grips with his own participation in the `destructive generation'. Mr. Horowitz also allows you insight into the highs and lows of thorough self-examination and in a way challenges you to assess your own belief system. `Radical Son' is an inspiring look at the idealistic pursuit of revolution from both sides of the political and ideological spectrum.

Read this book and I promise you'll be better for it. It's honest, compelling, thought provoking, passionate and possesses all the requisite qualities of a best-selling piece of fiction - but it's all real and the more amazing for it. Take yourself through the idealistic struggle of a life committed to zealously pursuing honesty and introspection. Experience this journey with David Horowitz and before you know it, you'll find yourself reading everything he puts out - he's just that good.
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