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Underground: My Life with SDS and the Weathermen Hardcover – March 24, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

With the war in Iraq provoking memories of Vietnam, Rudd gave up a 25-year silence on his role in the radical student movement of the 1960s when he lead the Weathermen. The group grew out of the Student for Democratic Society behind massive anti-war and social-justice protests at Columbia University. Rudd recalls his personal journey from idealistic freshman to student radical and the escalating violence that led to the riot during the 1969 Democratic party convention in Chicago and the bombing of a townhouse in Greenwich Village. Rudd spent seven years, from 1970 until 1977, living underground as a federal fugitive before turning himself in. Rudd writes from the perspective of a middle-aged teacher living in New Mexico, still concerned about social justice and heartened by the new administration and growing involvement of young people in politics and civic engagement. He admits shame and guilt about some of the excesses and violence of the radical 1960s, but maintains an enduring pride in the passion and idealism of the time. An engrossing look back at a turbulent time by an iconic figure. --Vanessa Bush

Review

“An important contribution to a growing collection of narratives from former participants in the revolutionary 1960s’ underground....deeply disturbing, though illuminating, in its unemotional matter-of-factness.” (truthdig)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (March 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061472751
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061472756
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #993,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nancy Dean Nichols on May 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is the best insider Weatherman book I've read so far. I've read most of them as they came out, mainly to try to get some insight into what the heck happened. I was on the edge of this movement and essentially turned my back on anything political as it got more violent, feeling everyone involved was tainted. This is the first one that spoke to that taint. Mark Rudd's voice has a ring of truth and, unlike some of the authors, presents a hopeful future and does not come across as self serving.
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Format: Hardcover
Eloquent, thoughtful, honest, and unflinching. What might have been either a polemic or apologia is instead a thoroughly engaging narrative about an unforgettable moment in American history. Mark Rudd is authentic and self-effacing. What might have been a heavy lift in less capable hands is an exciting and thought-provoking tale of ideology and courage, naivete and grandiosity, hubris and humility, patriotism and crime. Above all it is a poignant story of what America was and what it became.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mark Rudd's UNDERGROUND is very a very well-written, incisive, self-critical autobiography. It presents a searing
history of the Columbia Univerisity rebellion of 1968, as well as a convincing analysis of the ultra-leftism of
the Weathermen/WUO, with considerable self-criticism. Yet the book is optomistic and hopeful, written with the
conviction that to organize and struggle against US imperial foriegn policy was then, and remains now, critically important and just.

The book begs a comparison with Bill Ayer's FUGITIVE DAYS, by another Weatherman leader. Rudd's book wins hands down
as the far more honest journal. Where Ayer's makes only vague statements about the ultra-left errors of his politics and
their very negative impact on the Vietnam anti-war movement in the United States, Rudd wields a far sharper blade, recognizing
and apologizing for his ultra-leftism, while conceding not an inch on the basic righteousness of anti-war, anti-imperialist, anti-racist political work.

This reader waits with anticipation for a follow-up book about Rudd's activism after the 1970's.
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Format: Hardcover
I found it hard to put the book down. It is fast paced, intensely personal, funny, and a little depressing. The author doesn't try to romanticize his life as a fugitive. He does give an honest account of his story; the story of the 1968 Columbia strike, the disintegration of Students for a Democratic Society, and the Weather Underground. If you have an interest in what happened to the Vietnam anti-war movement and the radicalization of the 60s, then I would give this a high recommendation. The book is well-written and doesn't dwell in a maze of acronyms of the political movements of the 60s. It ends on a positive note with the 40th reunion of the Columbia strike where the issues of the Black students at Columbia came out to a public setting for the first time.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A must read for anyone interested in this aspect of the 60s. Having also grown up in the 60s, I found the author's honesty about the movement and himself quite interesting. However, I am rather certain he did not tell the whole truth and possibly he couldn't or shouldn't.

It is not a scholarly book; but, a life's story. I was happy that at the end he matured to understand that violent revolution will not succeed in a country like the US. However, he also did not repudiate his actions; but, neither has the US Government. To think that a violent revolution by a group of young, naïve students could take over the US is just that, naïve, even ludicrous. Youth is youth one could say.. But, the US Government at the time was also naïve and immature. Killing students for protesting ? A bit authoritarian at the time.

I have lived in Israel where one cannot avoid terrorism from either the PLO nor the Israeli government. I also lived in Germany during the end of the Baader Meinhof RAF era. Been to Ireland too. There are many parallels to the Underground and the RAF. One point that is disturbing is that many of these people never seem to fully understand the human condition. Communism can be seen as just as an enforced form of capitalism. It certainly does not solve the major issues of being human, food, shelter, protection. I am not a fan of capitalism and democracy; but it sure beats living under the Russian police. Few of the "freedom fighers" of the 60s ever come out and say, "boy, was I dumb" and the author doesn't either. Though, his last chapter shows some wisdom and maturity.

One point he does not make totally clear is how the SDS got it's finances.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
College Freshman, most all of them, go through what Mark Rudd went through: "Freshman Identity Crisis." We all find different ways to pull ourselves out of the mud and find out who we truly are, but Mark Rudd's story of this is truly one of the best. Rudd shows how good intentions can have disastrous ends and that sometimes, while we don't change our ideologies, we change how we go about making those ideologies into realities.
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By Richard on September 16, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I guess if you didn't live through the period, this sensational account of Mark Rudd's life in the SDS and Weathermen would hold little interest. However, Rudd weaves an entertaining, insightful, and truly epic story of his life as a radical. He doesn't shy away from the heartbreak and regrets he had over the years being a member of these organizations, but at the same time embraces the fundamental values that attracted him to lead a life of a revolutionary. Yeah, some of of it he passes off to being young and stupid, but in the end he gives the reader a look into the political machinery of the Vietnam War that got a whole generation of kids to question what their government was doing.
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