This review appears in CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries February 2003, Vol. 40, No. 06

Revolution in the Air

By D. R. Turner, Davis and Elkins College

Former Students for a Democratic Society member and activist Elbaum covers the yeas after 1968 when the Left became increasingly more radical and revolutionary in the US, the period Todd Gitlin referred to as the “bad sixties.” However, the author vigorously refutes the notion tht 1960s activism died in 1968; indeed, he describes a more purposeful Left that attempted to form a “New Communist” movement. The goal, he argues, was to unite all factions into a single “Leninist” party in order to play a serious role in US politics.

Elbaum provides a fascinating look into the workings of these organizations and describes with great clarity while they failed. However, Elbaum’s explanations of failure reveals the chief weaknesses in his conclusions. By attributing the movement’s failure to the split in the Chinese Communist party in 1976, Elbaum treats the reader to a fantastically inflated view of the micro-Left. His work also suffers from geographic distortion, with its assumption that traditional US society trembled before a few Marxist-Leninist study groups in San Francisco, New York City, Boston and an assortment of university towns.

Still, an interesting work. All levels and collections.