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Underground: My Life with SDS and the Weathermen Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 24, 2009
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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
“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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Back then, I hated the Weathermen for doing what law enforcement could not do: kill SDS. I considered the Weather faction privileged jerks playing at being armed revolutionaries. To this day, I despise Dohrn and Ayers for their lack of moral accountability. Rudd I respect for coming clean and facing ugly truths with humor, dignity, grace and courage. And if anyone was going to die, better the Weather anti-personnel bombmakers than the Fort Dix soldiers and their dates at the NCO dance.
It turns out the Weather faction, more than anyone else, did need a weatherman to tell them which way the wind blew.
If you were politically active at that time, read Rudd's excellent book. His writing talent is exceeded only by his integrity.
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. There are very few successful revolutions; and, those that are, are usually financed by those not taking the risk of incarceration. It is hard to believe the students of the day buying newspapers and donating were able to finance such people as the author to travel all over the country for the "Cause". I suspect there was more money involved that he indicates. Some of the safe houses he mentions are just "friends" of the revolution, willing to be imprisoned as accomplices ? That doesn't happen every day and I don't think as often as the author implies. Of course, there really could have been many willing to take the risk out of their own naivety. They were young after all.
All I am saying here is that the whole truth is still buried in the minds of those who participated. Being a leader the author has probably participated in much more that he can safely say or at least knows much more. The book is worth reading without a doubt. But, I would suggest the author secretly write the rest of the truth and have it published in his will. As a survivor of the 60s, I would love to read the rest of the story. If there isn't more, then one has to say, "boy, were you dumb."