SDS – Kirkpatrick Sale (1973)


“Social scientists and historians, not to mention college administrators and police agencies, continue to puzzle over how a student movement as radical as SDS could have emerged from the wizened anti-Communist League for Industrial Democracy, and then grown to such proportions without tight organization, and finally, despite a credo of democracy and humanity, degenerate into the bestiality of the Weathermen — all in one quite short decade. Sale does not solve the paradoxes; he does, however, provide a weighty history compiled from SDS files, interviews with former leaders, and New Left news sources. The presentation of SDS materials is unusually penetrating: reports, letters, and personal accounts are skillfully extracted and juxtaposed to catch the essence of factional fights, day-to-day operational crises, and the mushrooming of the student movement. Sale pinpoints the crucial 1966-67 shift to student syndicalism led by Calvert and Davidson which spurned solidarity with the civil rights movement as ‘fighting other people’s battles’ and demanded ‘a revolutionary self-identity.’ This shift eventually dissolved into counterculture affinities and the Weathermen. With fine irony Sale contrasts FBI and press slanders with the actual events, and records the hysteria and brutality of police-university attempts to squash the movement. But Sale’s view tends to be that of an SDS insider, exhibiting the strengths and weaknesses of that position. …”
Kirkus Reviews
W – Kirkpatrick Sale
[PDF] Kirkpatrick Sale – SDS
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