- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Beacon Press; 1 edition (January 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0807032778
- ISBN-13: 978-0807032770
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 34 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#836,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #540 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Elections & Political Process > Political Advocacy
- #691 in Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Social Activists
- #1427 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Specific Topics > Human Rights
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Fugitive Days: Memoirs of an Antiwar Activist 1st Edition
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[Ayers's] memoir is a breath of fresh air in this self-absorbed age. Ayers discusses his reservations about the use of violence to achieve an end to violence (reservations he held then as well), but he is unrepentant in believing that . . . right-minded people have an obligation to resist unjust wars. . . . There are many lessons still to be learned from such narratives. Recommended.—David Keymer, Library Journal
"[A] gripping and provocative story . . . What is most remarkable about this dramatic and revelatory personal and social history are the always urgent questions it raises about compassion and freedom, responsibility and community, and the conundrum of how to bring about much-needed change."—Booklist, starred review
"A challenging, moving, and troubling account . . . Ayers writes well, lyrically, passionately."—Andrea Behr, San Francisco Chronicle
"A memoir that is, in effect, a deeply moving elegy to all those young dreamers who tried to live decently in an indecent world. Ayers provides a tribute to those better angels of ourselves."—Studs Terkel, author of Working and The Good War
"With considerable wit, no small amount of remorse, and an anger that smolders still across the decades, Bill Ayers tells the story of his quintessentially American trip through the 1960s. That it is written in a consistently absorbing style with many passages of undiluted brilliance only adds to its appeal.—Thomas Frank, author of One Market Under God and What's the Matter with Kansas?
"A gripping account . . . Ayers describes well the deep emotions that inflamed the '60s."—John Patrick Diggins, Los Angeles Times
"This is a precious book, not simply because it offers a gripping personal account of the primal American suspense story of life on the run, but, more important, because it recreates a critical point of view and way of thinking that we seem, even a few decades later, barely able to recall."—Scott Turow, author of Ordinary Heroes and Ultimate Punishment
"It's been a long time since American political culture last leftward . . . Extremists of the left have all but disappeared, while extremists of the right are as common as mushrooms after rain . . . Ayers has a knack for capturing the spirit of his times . . . It's a fascinating story."—Jean Dubail, Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Finally, here is an irresistibly readable book that answers the question, How did a nice suburban boy go from the ordinary pleasures of his class to the Days of Rage and beyond? Bill Ayers not only makes this exalting and painful journey comprehensible, he peoples it with sympathetic family, friends, and lovers, and moves us with his candor."—Rosellen Brown, author of Before and After and Half a Heart
"Terrific . . . This memoir rings of hard-learned truth and integrity and is an important contribution to literature on 1960s culture and American radicalism."—Publishers Weekly
"What makes Fugitive Days unique is its unsparing detail and its marvelous human coherence and integrity. Bill Ayers's America and his family background, his education, his political awakening, his anger and involvement, his anguished re-emergence from the shadows: all these are rendered in their truth without a trace of nostalgia or 'second thinking.' For anyone who cares about the sorry mess we are in, this book is essential, indeed necessary, reading."—Edward W. Said, author of Reflections on Exile and Out of Place
"This remarkable memoir gives us the visceral experience of being on the run. Ayers writes with eloquence and irony. This is one man's amazingly honest, authentic, and gripping testament—and a helluva story it makes."—Phillip Lopate, author of Portrait of My Body
"A wild and painful ride in the savage years of the late sixties. A very good book about a terrifying time in America."—Hunter S. Thompson, author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Hell's Angels
"For anyone who wants to think hard about the social conflagration the Vietnam War produced in the U.S., and more generally about a citizen's obligations in troubled times, Ayers's powerful, morally charged account of a life and a society in the political balance is provocative reading."—David Farber, Chicago Tribune
About the Author
Bill Ayers is the author of the acclaimed and controversial memoir Fugitive Days, its follow up Public Enemy, and many books on education, including To Teach, Teaching Toward Freedom, and A Kind and Just Parent. He is the founder of the Small Schools Workshop and was, until his retirement, Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He lives in Hyde Park, Chicago.
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Top customer reviews
I definitely would not recommend this book as a resource for a true insight into 1960s activism. Instead it should be viewed as a novel that will impart upon you the mood of some of the most radical participants of the anti-war movement. I would however, recommend the book to anyone who is just looking for a good story or an interesting read.
Ayers is a gifted writer. He shares his story and rationale for his actions in a way that puts the reader in a frame of mind to wonder. What would I have done in his place? Does the US government have the right to invade other countries? What can an American citizen do to EFFECTIVELY influence how the US interacts on a global scale? How can America's global interactions reflect what we consider to be "American values"?
This is a must-read book.
But what they tried to do was crazy. They tried to overthrow the U.S. government. All five or six dozen of them. They tried to "bring the war home to America," as if they were Viet Cong, not white college kids. They convinced themselves that they were the vanguard of the American working class. They even thought they could manufacture bombs without blowing themselves up. It was delusional. It was violent. In the end, the Weathermen played into the hands of opportunistic pols like Nixon, who used their tactics to smear the whole anti-war movement.
"Fugitive Days" was written by one of the inner circle, but it doesn't clear up the paradoxes. It is impressionistic, disorganized, and solipsistic. It has too much sexual boasting. Parts gush like a teenager's diary. Even worse, it has no analysis of what motivated the Weathermen, how the group functioned, or how it related to the broader left. There's hardly even a chronology. One example: the Days of Rage is described in florid, first-person detail, but no context is given to explain why anyone could think that a few days of vandalism would end the war in Vietnam.
I liked "Fugitive Days" a lot, because the author loved a girl who died in a blast in New York, and because '60s militancy was an understandable response to the crimes of the Vietnam War. But the book isn't useful as history.
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