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Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity Paperback – November 1, 2005

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dan Berger is a writer, activist, and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania. A long-time activist, he is the co-editor of "Letters From Young Activists" (forthcoming: Nation Books, 2005). His writing has appeared in academic journals, activist publications, and Web sites across the country. He lives in Philadelphia.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 450 pages
  • Publisher: AK Press (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904859410
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904859413
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #679,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The Politics of the Weather Underground

Volunteers of America

By RON JACOBS

In 1997 Verso published my history of the Weather Underground, The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground. Weather Underground member Bill Ayers' memoir Fugitive Days, published by Beacon Press in 2001, followed. Two years later, the film The Weather Underground, directed by Sam Green and Bill Siegel, was released. The film probably received the greatest amount of coverage in the mainstream media, although the unfortunate timing of Weather Underground member Bill Ayers' memoir (September 11, 2001) certainly provided his book with its own share, most of it negative.

There have also been novels written where the WUO figured prominently (most notably The Company You Keep by Neil Gordon Viking 2003), a pamphlet written by political prisoner David Gilbert (SDS/WUO, Students For A Democratic Society And The Weather Underground Organization, Arm the Spirit 2002) and the comparative study of the Weather Underground and the German leftist armed organization, the Red Army Fraction, by Jeremy Varon (Bringing the War Home: The Weather Underground, the Red Army Faction, and Revolutionary Violence in the Sixties and Seventies; UC Press 2004).

AK Press of Oakland, California is adding another book to this growing library of Weather Underground literature. The book, titled Outlaws of America and written by up-and-coming radical author Dan Berger, is an important complement to the earlier works.
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Format: Paperback
Berger's history of the Weather Underground is meticulously researched, and his writing is straightforward and clear. Weatherman is portrayed in a compassionate but unromanticized light. This important book is a must-read for everyone with an interest in 20th century social justice movements.
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In attempting to construct yet another history of the storied Weather Underground and the tumultuous era of "The Sixties", author Dan Berger endeavors to become heir to the New Left and "anti-imperialist" mantle. The book, replete with stilted, politically archaic and often strident rhetorical catchphrases offers precious few new historical facts, no new perspectives and makes for generally tedious reading.

The history of the group is traced from its origins through its demise. The WUO arose from the much larger SDS. The break from Students for a Democratic Society was engineered by a classical Leninist move: a small, self-proclaimed leadership circle whose extreme views set it in opposition to most SDS members expelled elements that espoused "competing lines". Its emphasis on race and "white privilege" was expressed as support for just about any and all "Third World Liberation movements". After initially denying the traditional "Old Left" class-based social and economic analysis, the WUO "platform" as defined by the group leaders, gradually morphed into conventional Marxism. In the process, virtually all sympathetic and potentially sympathetic segments of society were alienated, as were many Weather "cadres", essentially none of whom were consulted regarding this or other policies. The vitriolic attacks on those who held differing opinions was reminiscent of Stalin's tactics at their harshest.

Basically, the rapid demise of the group was largely the WUO's own fault. The entire enterprise and the political analysis upon which it was based was fatally flawed and utterly superficial. The group's strategy was hopelessly naive.
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