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Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History Hardcover – January 8, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

American Splendor's Pekar has been incredibly prolific in the last few years, and more recently he has taken on nonautobiographical projects to varying degrees of success. This newest effort works on a variety of levels. For one, Pekar is not the sole author. He constructs a narrative of the history of the Students for a Democratic Society, but frequently steps aside to allow actual participants in that history to tell their own stories, using his casual first-person model of storytelling. The narrative moves through the decade of SDS history and then moves into the participant accounts, offering both a macro and a micro vision of the times. The artwork is mostly by frequent Pekar collaborator Gary Dumm, whose crisp, neutral realism may not be thrilling but does move the story along and does a fine job of conveying the various settings. As a whole, the book acts like a sophisticated handbook on an often misunderstood organization. It's good comics and excellent history. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History will make old timers remember, discuss, argue and laugh, while the young will bubble with questions. For me, it brought back untold memories and induced visions of the next great wave of social activism! (Michael James, JOIN/SDS organizer, founder of Rising Up Angry, and proprietor of Chicago's Heartland Cafe)

My own radical journey began with Mad Magazine, so it feels great that SDS should enter the culture of comic folklore thanks to Harvey Pekar and Paul Buhle. May this graphic history be an informing contribution as a new generation of SDS writes its own story. (Tom Hayden, founding member of the Students for a Democratic Society)

Hey! Did you know grandpa was a revolutionary? If you want the inside story from SDS veterans themselves, with a minimum of rhetoric and a maximum of sex, drugs, violence, and internal faction-fighting, check out this wonderful graphic history. Almost--but not quite--like being there. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and no cop will hit you over the head, either. Grandma and grandpa's bedtime stories are guaranteed to get the children dreaming of their own anti-imperialist movement. (Mark Rudd, a founder of the Weather Underground, the last National Secretary of SDS, and the Chairman of the Columbia University chapter of SDS during the 1968 student strike)

Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History brings the historical power of SDS to life for the new generation of SDS activists. At a time when the state repression and militarism of the 1960's and 70's finds its closest parallel in the Iraq War and the Patriot Act, this accessible book maps out the legacy of resistance our generation has inherited. This is mandatory reading for serious, young organizers who desire to combat oppression while avoiding the errors of their predecessors. (Senia Barragan, Brown University/Providence SDS)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang; First Edition edition (January 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809095394
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809095391
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,070,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Preston C. Enright on May 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This graphic history of "Students for a Democratic Society" brings to life an important effort at participatory democracy and protest that had 80,000 to 100,000 activists at its peak in the late sixties. SDS disintegrated for a combination of reasons, some interpersonal, some external disruptions from the FBI The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI's Secret Wars Against Dissent in the United States (South End Press Classics Series), and also the splintering off of more militant groups like The Weather Underground. Nevertheless, SDS was a learning experience for many and contributed to the growing women's movement, the gay rights movement, the environmental movement and so forth. Many SDS members created new approaches to social change, such as Tom Hayden becoming involved in politics and writing books such as Ending the War in Iraq, Michael Albert who helped to found Z Magazine and has written and lectured widely on alternative economics Realizing Hope: Life beyond Capitalism, and Thom Hartmann who has become a nationally syndicated radio host and author on such topics as Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights.Read more ›
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17 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Thoughtful1 on July 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
I was disappointed with this book. As a history of SDS it is episodic and disjoint. There is no attempt to give the viewpoints continuity. Some of the voices were cynical some were just egocentric, none were very informative. Did HSP really disolve into drug abusing powerlessness? What did it matter anyway?
As a separate issue the drawings are boring. The protestors break thru security lines to the lawn of the Pentagon. Without the text, it looks like a dull dull dull picnic.With the text it looks like there wasn't much of a protest going on. That is typical of the illustrations. The text says that women and men were taking equal part in the housekeeping at one 'project house'. Graphic shows women cooking, men talking. Kent State is condensed into two pages at the end. Throughout the book words in the text are in bold face type; the words in boldface seem to be chosen randomly.

Graphic Format can be used to bring an added dimension to an historical account. This book is an example trying to exploit the current interest in graphic format with a second rate text and ill planned pictures.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By G. S. Malitz on August 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
What ever happened to this style of activism? Where is it when it is needed most? The 60's mantra of 'One generation got old, one generation got soul' can't possibly be limited to just that generation can it? This should be must reading on H.S. reading lists when it comes to 60-70's history. Not only does it tell a story that will never find its way into regulated reading lists, it also does it in a way that would be engaging to students (not that that is ever a consideration of course). I participated in those times, so of course I loved the book. Let others learn from our mistakes and hopefully catch our unbridled enthusiasm while reading about those bygone days.
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Format: Hardcover
Yeah, there were lots of aspects of the S.D.S., and student protest organisations like of like orientation, that earnestly ideology-driven scholars examining the 1960s and 1970s ignore when they concentrate too unduly and solely on ideological aspects (those of the groups and of the authors themselves writing about them).

As an undergraduate student at U.. Mass. Boston, I joined one of the Marxist-Leninist groups, Students Against War and Fascism, that differed in some obscure way from the S.D.S. itself; there were lots of splinter groups, which differed in their "take" on Marx, Engels, and Lenin, or which were latter-day votaries of Trotsky, Che Guevarra, and/or Mao, and they were every bit as "devoted to the cause" as the S.D.S. itself, and manifested many of the same traits. I never could understand why the groups made such a fuss about their divergent interpretations of the great Marxist-Leninist founders' writings, but these rival viewpoints meant a great deal to the leading student figures of the various groups. It seemed to me then, and, in hindsight, even more now, that an united Marxist front would have accomplished more than the various splinter groups did achieve.

I was then and largely remain rather liberal in my socio-political convictions (although later, and I hope wiser, in life I reverted to Catholic Christian belief), but at the time I never completely grasped what these organisations really were about, or perhaps rather I did not feel the need to assert their Marxist dogmas in full or according to the same interpretations.
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