Battleground Chicago: The Police and the 1968 Democratic National Convention

Overview

The 1968 Democratic Convention, best known for police brutality against demonstrators, has been relegated to a dark place in American historical memory. Battleground Chicago ventures beyond the stereotypical image of rioting protestors and violent cops to reevaluate exactly how—and why—the police attacked antiwar activists at the convention.
            Working from interviews with eighty former Chicago police officers who ...

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Overview

The 1968 Democratic Convention, best known for police brutality against demonstrators, has been relegated to a dark place in American historical memory. Battleground Chicago ventures beyond the stereotypical image of rioting protestors and violent cops to reevaluate exactly how—and why—the police attacked antiwar activists at the convention.
            Working from interviews with eighty former Chicago police officers who were on the scene, Frank Kusch uncovers the other side of the story of ’68, deepening our understanding of a turbulent decade.
 
“Frank Kusch’s compelling account of the clash between Mayor Richard Daley’s men in blue and anti-war rebels reveals why the 1960s was such a painful era for many Americans. . . . to his great credit, [Kusch] allows ‘the pigs’ to speak up for themselves.”—Michael Kazin
 
“Kusch’s history of white Chicago policemen and the 1968 Democratic National Convention is a solid addition to a growing literature on the cultural sensibility and political perspective of the conservative white working class in the last third of the twentieth century.”—David Farber, Journal of American History
 
 

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Editorial Reviews

Chicago Tribune

"Battleground Chicago is especially valuable because it lets the police officers involved in the riots in Lincoln and Grant Parks have their say."

— Julia Keller

Choice

“This retelling of a well-known story is significant partly for its detail and objectivity, but mostly because the author focuses on telling the story from the perspective of the police rather than the protesters. . . . Highly recommended.”

Contemporary Sociology

“Masterful. . . . Kusch’s interviews contribute invaluable material to one wishing to decipher and make theoretical sense of what happened in Chicago during the 1968 Convention.”
History

“A fascinating story unfolds, of family-oriented cops recruited from white ethnic communities confronting middle-class ‘longhairs’; of both the police and the activists able to perceive one another only as stereotypes . . . of the cumulative and destructive mutual antipathy between police and press.”
Journal of American History

“Kusch’s history of white Chicago policemen and the 1968 Democratic National Convention is a solid addition to a growing literature on the cultural sensibility and political perspective of the conservative white working class in the last third of the twentieth century.”
Chicago Tribune - Julia Keller

"Battleground Chicago is especially valuable because it lets the police officers involved in the riots in Lincoln and Grant Parks have their say."
Choice

“This retelling of a well-known story is significant partly for its detail and objectivity, but mostly because the author focuses on telling the story from the perspective of the police rather than the protesters. . . . Highly recommended.”

Chicago Tribune

"Battleground Chicago is especially valuable because it lets the police officers involved in the riots in Lincoln and Grant Parks have their say."--Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune

— Julia Keller

Choice

“This retelling of a well-known story is significant partly for its detail and objectivity, but mostly because the author focuses on telling the story from the perspective of the police rather than the protesters. . . . Highly recommended.”—Choice

History

“A fascinating story unfolds, of family-oriented cops recruited from white ethnic communities confronting middle-class ‘longhairs’; of both the police and the activists able to perceive one another only as stereotypes . . . of the cumulative and destructive mutual antipathy between police and press.”—History

Contemporary Sociology

“Masterful. . . . Kusch’s interviews contribute invaluable material to one wishing to decipher and make theoretical sense of what happened in Chicago during the 1968 Convention.”—Contemporary Sociology

Journal of American History

“Kusch’s history of white Chicago policemen and the 1968 Democratic National Convention is a solid addition to a growing literature on the cultural sensibility and political perspective of the conservative white working class in the last third of the twentieth century.”—Journal of American History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226465036
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,462,542
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Frank Kusch has worked as a freelance editor, a communications consultant, and a political speechwriter. He is the author of All American Boys: Draft Dodgers in Canada from the Vietnam War.
 
 

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Paperback Edition
Preface
Timeline

1. "An American City": The Roots of a Creed
2. "Freaks, Cowards, and Bastards": The War at Home
3. "What's America Coming To?": January--June 1968
4. "On to Chicago": Countdown to August
5. "A Perfect Mess": Convention Week
6. "Terrorists from Out of Town": Fallout in the Second City
7. "Half the Power of God": Chicago in '68 Revisited

Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index
Photo essay follows chapter 5.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2004

    Taking it to the streets

    I was a pretty young guy in 1968 but I remember well the images from television, the violence and the cops beating the antiwar people. Well, I thought I knew it well, before this book. The author took me on a blow by blow account to the streets and really brings the convention week of that summer alive through the eyes of the cops who where there. It is a violent and unflinching account of the mayhem of that crazy week. It also puts to rest some of the exaggeration by some members of the press core that the police were the ones who had rioted. Kusch shows that the reporting that week was not always that objective as the media were being beat by the police, too. And while he shows how the cops behaved, he also puts that violence into a measured perspective by relating how the reporting of the police violence was skewed by personal conflict, raging stereotypes on both sides, and distortion after the fact of the ugly conflict as one side was able to shape our memory of that event through television and print journalism. Kusch does not sugarcoat the actions of the cops but shows them as real neighborhood guys who believed they were protecting their city from subversion. This book is a colorful, thoughtful account; some parts of it I will want to read again, especially the 50 to 60 pages devoted to the intense street battle which says so much about the Sixties and that fateful summer. Highly recommended.

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