Generation On Fire: Voices of Protest from the 1960s: An Oral History
by Jeff Kisseloff
The political activism of the American counterculture during the 1960s remains a subject blighted by misconceptions and stereotypes. To many, the political thought of the 1960s is synonymous with widespread drug abuse, failed social experiments, and general irresponsibility. Despite sustained public interest, few remember that many of the freedoms and rights Americans enjoy today are the direct result of those who defiantly challenged the established order during this tumultuous period. The period frightened both mainstream and elite Americans and still does.
In Generation on Fire, both well-known and overlooked political activists speak about their motives and actions during the 1960s through the present. Journalist and popular oral historian Jeff Kisseloff provides a broad and eclectic account of the political activity of the decade, as told by those individuals who led the resistance on numerous fronts: civil rights, the antiwar movement, women's liberation, the environmental movement, and gay rights. The book offers firsthand accounts of what it was like in the courtroom with the Chicago Eight, the trenches of the national football league, the jungles of Vietnam, a commune in Vermont and on a stage in Woodstock.
Including never-before published interviews, Generation on Fire unapologetically contextualizes the world of the 1960s--illuminating the ingrained social and cultural obstacles facing activists as well as the courage and shortcomings of those who defied "acceptable" conventions and mores. Generation on Fire is an invaluable resource for all who wish to understand the dramatic social, cultural, and political conflicts that arose during a period of radical change.
"Journalist and pop historian Kisseloff presents an invigorating collection of 15 testimonials from counter-culturists, conscientious objectors, and artists who came of age during one of the most volatile decades in American history. Told in these revolutionaries' own energized words, these galvanizing rants are not polished, heady, or particularly well-crafted, but simply tell it like it was and therein lies their immediate, unadorned power. From Barry Melton's freewheeling tale of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll in Berkeley-based folk band Country Joe and the Fish, to Gloria Richardson Dandridge's charged retelling of her experiences as a pro-violence Civil Rights activist, to Bernard LaFayette's sobering account of his life-threatening work with Martin Luther King as a SNCC leader, these offerings are candid and eye-opening in the extreme. Of particular merit is the chapter called 'Allison's Story,' in which Allison Krause's mother and then-boyfriend compare notes about the days leading up to and immediately following the Kent State shooting in May 1970, when Allison and three of her classmates were killed by members of the National Guard. While Kisseloff's clumsy introductions to each entry may err on the side of campy, the testimonies themselves more than make up for it in substance and spirit. 40 photos."
"Journalist and historian Kisseloff answers Tom Brokaw's paean to 'the greatest generation' who fought World War II with a tribute to the generation that followed and fought against domestic injustices, as well as the Vietnam War, where the American posture was not nearly as heroic. Kisseloff profiles 15 people who had the courage to stand up to social injustice in the 1960s and continue to fight against racism, sexism, pollution, and other social ills. Among his subjects are Freedom Riders Bernard LaFayette and Gloria Richardson, peace activist Daniel Berrigan, Vietnam vet turned protester David Cline, gay rights activist Frank Kameny, and feminist Marilyn Salzman Webb. Kisseloff precedes each interview with a brief historical overview and includes photographs of the activists in the 1960s and currently. Interview subjects explore their personal development as activists and the convictions that have carried their activism into their middle and later ages. Readers interested in the turbulent period of the 1960s and its legacy will enjoy this book."
--Vanessa Bush, Booklist
"Deeply moving and complex, it will come as a revelation about an era too often reduced to caricature."
-- Maurice Isserman, author of The Other American: The Life of Michael Harrington
"This collaborative oral history proved impossible to put down. The parallels to today's often fractious progressive movements are striking, but more than that, there is a vibrancy to the interviews with integrationists, anti-war activists, environmentalists, and women's and gay rights advocated that bring to life a decade that most of us reading here are far too young to have experienced directly... amazing book."
"An interesting and at times poignant collection of interviews. A valuable addition to the growing collection of sixties memoirs. Highly recommended."
--K.B. Nutter, CHOICE
"Articulate and vivid, offering details that give a sense of just how much was at stake personally for each of these activists."
--The Oral History Review
"Generation on Fire was an enjoyable and inspiring read which should appeal to a wide audience."
--Caroline Hoefferle, The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
by Bernard Lafayette
by Bob Zellner
by Gloria Richardson Dandridge
by Paul Krassner
by Lee Weiner
by Daniel Berrigan
by David Cline
by Peter Berg
by Elsa Marley Skylark
by Marilyn Salzman Webb
by Frank Kameny
by Barry Melton
by David Meggyesy
The Queen Of Poesie
by Verandah Porche
by Doris Krause and Barry Levine
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