From Publishers Weekly
Enjoying the security and comfort of his middle-class lifestyle in the suburbs of Ann Arbor, Mich., where he worked for a defense contractor, Oglesby was an unlikely candidate to move to the forefront of the countercultural antiwar movement. However, several momentous events, combined with his growing sense that the Vietnamese revolution had less to do with communism and more to do with national independence, led him to quit his job and follow his principles by becoming involved full-time in the radical organization Students for a Democratic Society. Oglesby traces his and the organization's activities from its attempts to educate the public on Vietnam at teach-ins through the more violent antiwar activities of its splinter groups. His insider's view introduces readers to the personalities and ideologies of some of the major players in SDS and the antiwar movement, and he uses recently released FBI, State Department and CIA files to show the magnitude of governmental infiltration of the organization. But what makes the book most compelling is Oglesby's in-depth knowledge of this tumultuous era and his astute observations about the influence of key events of the period—such as the murders of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy as well as military operations like the Tet offensive—on SDS and its evolving political ideology.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Writing this memoir, Oglesby was able to draw on more than four thousand pages of government intelligence about himself, gathered in the nineteen-sixties during his time as the president of the protest group Students for a Democratic Society. A former defense-industry employee with a high-security clearance, Oglesby became a prominent antiwar figurehe served on an international war-crimes tribunal with Jean-Paul Sartre and was asked to be the Vice-Presidential running mate of the Black Panther Eldridge Cleaverbut he always saw himself as a voice for moderation. This centrist perspective alienated S.D.S.s militants, including a future leader of the Weathermen, who warned him, "We are not frustrated liberals, Carl. We are enemies of the state." In the end, Oglesby recounts, he was forced out of S.D.S. on charges of rejecting Marxism-Leninism and possibly being a federal agent. His book is a mournful tribute to the spirit of an age gone awry.
Copyright ©2008Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker