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Swords in the Hands of Children: Reflections of an American Revolutionary

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This crisp, contemplative memoir of an American radical arrives at a moment of surging activism and rage. It is essential reading for progressives struggling with how to act and survive in the Age of Trump. Against the vividly evoked chaos and conflicts of the Sixties, Jonathan Lerner probes the impulses that led a small group of educated, privileged young Americans to tur This crisp, contemplative memoir of an American radical arrives at a moment of surging activism and rage. It is essential reading for progressives struggling with how to act and survive in the Age of Trump. Against the vividly evoked chaos and conflicts of the Sixties, Jonathan Lerner probes the impulses that led a small group of educated, privileged young Americans to turn to violence as a means of political change. Beyond that, he tells the true story of an intellectually adventurous but insecure gay man immersed in the macho, misogynistic and physically confrontational environment of the Weathermen. Inventing himself first as “minister of propaganda” for a movement — and along the way participating in the Venceremos Brigade in Cuba and observing the Native American uprising at Wounded Knee — and then reinventing himself as high-rolling gay hustler, Lerner recounts a wild and utterly American journey from idealism to destruction and beyond. Other Weatherpeople have written memoirs; none has explored the painful history of the consequential group with such penetrating honesty.


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This crisp, contemplative memoir of an American radical arrives at a moment of surging activism and rage. It is essential reading for progressives struggling with how to act and survive in the Age of Trump. Against the vividly evoked chaos and conflicts of the Sixties, Jonathan Lerner probes the impulses that led a small group of educated, privileged young Americans to tur This crisp, contemplative memoir of an American radical arrives at a moment of surging activism and rage. It is essential reading for progressives struggling with how to act and survive in the Age of Trump. Against the vividly evoked chaos and conflicts of the Sixties, Jonathan Lerner probes the impulses that led a small group of educated, privileged young Americans to turn to violence as a means of political change. Beyond that, he tells the true story of an intellectually adventurous but insecure gay man immersed in the macho, misogynistic and physically confrontational environment of the Weathermen. Inventing himself first as “minister of propaganda” for a movement — and along the way participating in the Venceremos Brigade in Cuba and observing the Native American uprising at Wounded Knee — and then reinventing himself as high-rolling gay hustler, Lerner recounts a wild and utterly American journey from idealism to destruction and beyond. Other Weatherpeople have written memoirs; none has explored the painful history of the consequential group with such penetrating honesty.

47 review for Swords in the Hands of Children: Reflections of an American Revolutionary

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    This is a very interesting book. It is a look back by a mature man on his life in the Weather Underground. It is NOT a history or analysis on 1960s leftist terrorism. It does introduce the reader to the animosity that existed between various radical groups, some of the less than admirable attitudes of the movements leaders and some of the actions of activists such as Bill Ayer. It also shows some of the early conflicts faced by gay people of the time period. Although my own political views are n This is a very interesting book. It is a look back by a mature man on his life in the Weather Underground. It is NOT a history or analysis on 1960s leftist terrorism. It does introduce the reader to the animosity that existed between various radical groups, some of the less than admirable attitudes of the movements leaders and some of the actions of activists such as Bill Ayer. It also shows some of the early conflicts faced by gay people of the time period. Although my own political views are not aligned with those of the author, I enjoyed the book. It did not preach gay liberation. It explained how the author thought at the time and looking back in reflection. It did the same with the review on leftist liberal politics of the time. The book was reflective, not whiny or preachy. It reminded me a bit of the book put out by German RAF terrorist Bommi Baumann. Regardless of your political leanings or view on liberal activism, I recommend this book for anyone interested in the time period.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Luisa

    I won a copy of this book on goodreads in exchange for an honest review. I don't really know what I thought about this book. It seemed to jump around a lot and honestly I think missed the whole point of it. It was interestimg to know about the weathermen or what other variation of tbe name they used I never heard of them before, that being said I am Canadian so our focus of learning about this time period was The Quebec crisis of the early 1970's. I think people that like studying politics and h I won a copy of this book on goodreads in exchange for an honest review. I don't really know what I thought about this book. It seemed to jump around a lot and honestly I think missed the whole point of it. It was interestimg to know about the weathermen or what other variation of tbe name they used I never heard of them before, that being said I am Canadian so our focus of learning about this time period was The Quebec crisis of the early 1970's. I think people that like studying politics and how it evolves would like this book, as well as those interested in counter culture of the the late sixties and early seventies would also enjoy it. This was just not my cup of tea.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Allan MacDonell

    Ever find yourself wondering if anyone who ever played a part, could they turn around and hate it? Well, making a case study of Student for a Democratic Society and Weather Underground hanger-on Jonathan Lerner’s memoir of sixties radicals gone mild, Swords in the Hands of Children, the answer evidently is, “yes,” and I guess rightfully so.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Megan Brault

    Won on Goodreads. A must read by anyone contemplating this years violence.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chris Jones

  6. 4 out of 5

    Megan

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ben Miller

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sparrow

    I read this book with vertiginous speed – as if I’d taken Lisdexamfetamine! In some ways it’s the ultimate Weatherman memoir: a precise accounting of an escalating madness. The Weather Underground were a lot more like a street gang than I imagined! (Drawn to physical violence, guided by the “coolest” kids.) Yet for Jonathan, the Revolution was a kind of noncredit college, teaching him graphics, accounting, the art of writing.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Irina Das sarkar

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tom

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nancy G.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rob

  13. 4 out of 5

    Natasha

  14. 4 out of 5

    Pascale Hall

  15. 5 out of 5

    John

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

  17. 4 out of 5

    Verity

  18. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  19. 5 out of 5

    OR Books

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ian

  21. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

  22. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Fasching-Gray

  23. 4 out of 5

    David

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Sherwood

  25. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jack

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel Alves

  29. 4 out of 5

    thomas

  30. 5 out of 5

    Aan Krida

  31. 4 out of 5

    Micielle

  32. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  33. 4 out of 5

    Richard Randall

  34. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

  35. 4 out of 5

    Mitesh Jain

  36. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Piper

  37. 5 out of 5

    Asmita Das

  38. 4 out of 5

    Nicola Fantom

  39. 4 out of 5

    Christie

  40. 4 out of 5

    Era Medisa

  41. 4 out of 5

    Shaan Vaidya

  42. 4 out of 5

    Eva Matijevic

  43. 4 out of 5

    Loretta Bush

  44. 4 out of 5

    Samarth

  45. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Muscat

  46. 5 out of 5

    Wanda C

  47. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Bradley

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