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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Edition: A Seven Stories Press 1st Ed; Hardcover in dustjacket. Owner's name on endpaper. A few short notes on half-title page. Text unmarked.
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Flying Close to the Sun: My Life and Times as a Weatherman Hardcover – September 4, 2007

3.4 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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The bestselling author of "Encyclopedia an Ordinary Life" returns with a literary experience that is unprecedented, unforgettable, and explosively human. Hardcover | Kindle book
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

CATHY WILKERSON was active in the civil rights movement, Students for a Democratic Society, and the Weathermen. In 1970, she was one of two women to survive an explosion in the basement of her family’s townhouse that killed three Weathermen, forcing the group underground. For the past twenty years she has worked as a mathematics educator in New York City schools.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press; A Seven Stories Press 1st Ed edition (September 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583227717
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583227718
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,088,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
There were parts of the book that I really liked. Her writing is very good and her research regarding those times was well based. I too grew up at that time and was in the same circles to a much much lessor extent than she. There were no experiences easily available at that time to teach us how to even understand A revolution happened regarding class, women,and more particularly racism during the 60s and early 70s. That does not even include music, dance, art, the economy, etc. We were all being educated extensively, intellectually and by new experiences, and more importantly including some real effective organizing skills. We had more money and resources in a way our parents never had available when they were our age. What we did with those opportunities resulted in some significant change. I had hoped that Cathy would talk about her experiences with this revolution in a more personal way. I think she did an excellent job explaining how and why she intellectually made the decisions she made. That was good and helpful, but I still don't know much about Cathy and how she experienced this meaningful time based on her own experience as an upper middle class person whose whole understanding of the world was turned upside down by the efforts to affect power in this country. I do recommend this book, but don't expect to know Cathy Wilkerson much better than what we already knew. Her place in the weatherman organization is confirmed and understanding how decisions were made becomes very clear. That information clearly helps us understand the Weathermen and what influnced their activity.
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Format: Hardcover
Flying Close to the Sun was an interesting look at how SDS and other anti-war activists decided that confrontation, even violent confrontation was the only true way to exact meaningful politcal change. It also showed that many new leftists were anti-Vietnam war but not anti-war. I am sure many would be all too comfortable in the culture wars of today.

Ms. Wilkerson comes across as a person with strong beliefs and a true committment to back them up with action. Yet, she also comes across as self-absorbed and naive. She didn't seem concerned that her father's town house had been destroyed and that other innocent people could have been killed. She acknowledged that her cohorts had shown terrible judgement in messing with explosives but didn't seem to realize the town house explosian damaged the anti-war movement and helped move this country to the right.

The book was still a great read and did a nice job of describing the political climate of the late sixties. It showed, through her own strainted family relations, the dynamics of what was then labeled as the "generation gap." Yet, at times I thought the book wasn't reflective enough even though it looked back events almost 40 years old.
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Format: Paperback
In the fall of 1968, I attended my first anti-war rally in Madison, Wisconsin. It was a peaceful candlelight march held near the UW campus, attended by students and townspeople of all ages, including grandparents and children. By the summer of 1972 when I graduated, large peaceful rallies were no longer possible; the movement had been hijacked by self-proclaimed "crazies" who trashed store windows, vandalized cars, spray painted slogans, stoned police, chanted pro-NLF slogans under NLF flags, and shouted down and intimidated anyone who disagreed with them. As a result, widespread public support of anti-war demonstrations, and the movement itself, was withering on the vine.

I witnessed this frustrating transition close-up, and while it was obvious many of the crazies were young and ignorant, it was also clear there was a hardcore group of intellectual radicals who knew exactly what they were doing pulling their strings, intentionally creating chaos and inciting violence. I often wondered who these people were, what in the world they were thinking and trying to accomplish. Cathy Wilkerson, who was a string puller, provides some insight into these questions.

Written in a flat tone, devoid of the passion of the times she is describing, her book is still interesting in a boring way. She methodically chronicles her transition from pampered upper middleclass schoolgirl to underground fugitive, providing her motivations, perceptions and misconceptions every step of the way. Unfortunately, she is much less forthcoming about her more interesting Weatherman associates. This book is NOT a kiss and tell, or even a deep dive into the personalities of the leadership of the organization.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ms. Wilkerson takes us inside one of the most coveted covens of the New Left, The Weather Underground and gives us a first hand account of how they operated, their agenda and a history of the movement from its roots to eventual dissolution through FBI infiltration.

One of the things that sets Ms. Wilkerson's book apart from the rest of the radical memoirs is the fact that, unlike many other sixties icons who got book deals, Wilkerson waited until she grew up and became a parent up to write about her post-adolescence. Thus giving her a grander perspective on her politics and the actions of her cohorts and the movement in general.

I would have liked a bit more about her later life and how she had to rationalize to her child about her radical choices. The end felt rushed, for that I deduct a star, but I'm nit-picking. This is a book of historical significance, well written and one that should be read by all who study the Sixties and the New Left.
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