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Steal This Dream: Abbie Hoffman & the Countercultural REvolustion in America Hardcover – August 17, 1998
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Although there have been other biographies of the late-'60s radical dissident and counterculture publicist Abbie Hoffman, as well as his own writings such as Steal This Book, this oral biography strikes a valuable chord. Unlike other oral biographies--particularly those organized by George Plimpton around such figures as Edie Sedgwick and Truman Capote--with snobs waffling on about nothing much, the context of Hoffman's fame amid the political struggles of the '60s and '70s fits the mold of a many-voiced, democratic narrative. The interviews were carried out, selected, and assembled by the prolific Larry Sloman, former editor at National Lampoon and High Times, author of On the Road with Bob Dylan, and coauthor of Howard Stern's Private Parts and Miss America. In his own way, Hoffman could be a "shock jock" too, but during such gripping events as the Chicago Seven trial or demonstrations agains the Vietnam War, he could be funnier and sadder than Howard Stern ever was. Plagued by manic-depressive syndrome, psychosis, substance abuse, and relational problems, he ruined his life by choosing to deal drugs, which forced him to go underground for six years late in his life. Hoffman, who died of suicide, nevertheless possessed, as Sloman, who knew him from 1967 on, writes, an "incredibly sharp wit" and "charisma" that won him friends even when he was plainly exploiting them. A lively ride of a book, one that will bring back memories for anyone who lived through these parlous times of America's history. --Benjamin Ivry
From Publishers Weekly
Through interviews with over 200 people who protested with or fought against Abbie Hoffman, Sloman does a brilliant job of capturing not only the Yippie leader, but also the successes and failures of the counterculture movement. As with any oral biography, much depends on who contributes. It seems that Sloman got nearly everyone to talk, a particularly daunting task when dealing with denizens of the counterculture. Sloman's own unorthodox credentials may have helped: a former editor-in-chief at High Times, he was also Howard Stern's collaborator on Private Parts and Miss America, and author of On the Road with Bob Dylan. Sloman shows that from a very early age, Hoffman was obsessed with appearances and attention, making this book the most fitting tribute yet written on the controversial 1960s icon. Weaving together quotes from the likes of Jerry Rubin, Anita Hoffman, Tom Hayden, Grace Slick and Timothy Leary, Sloman covers the often mythologized political and social events of the 1960s and Hoffman's part in them. Two such events are the "levitation" of the Pentagon and the disruption of the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. In many of the accounts of 1968 included here, Hoffman appears as an energetic, charming creature who manipulated the media and the kids who followed him and couldn't hide his egocentric agendas. Sloman also includes snippets from interviews with Hoffman, presented chronologically until the dissident's suicide in 1989. Whether one loves or hates the self-congratulating revolutionary, this is a fascinating work of social history, presented thoughtfully and thoroughly. 40 b&w photos. Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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