David Dellinger: The Life and Times of a Nonviolent Revolutionary

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Overview

The year was 1969. In a Chicago courthouse, David Dellinger, one of the Chicago Eight, stood trial for conspiring to disrupt the National Democratic Convention. Dellinger, a long-time but relatively unknown activist, was suddenly, at fifty-three, catapulted into the limelight for his part in this intense courtroom drama.

From obscurity to leader of the antiwar movement, David Dellinger is the first full biography of a man who bridged the gap between the Old Left and the New Left. Born in 1915 in the upscale Boston suburb of Wakefield to privilege, Dellinger attended Yale during the Depression, where he became an ardent pacifist and antiwar activist. Rejecting his parents' affluent lifestyle, he endured lengthy prison sentences as a conscientious objector to World War II and created a commune in northern New Jersey in the 1940s, a prototype for those to follow twenty years later.

His instrumental role in the creation of Liberation magazine in 1956 launched him onto the national stage. Writing regular essays for the influential radical monthly on the arms race and the Civil Rights movement, he earned an audience among the New Left radicals. As anti-Vietnam sentiment grew, he became, in Abbie Hoffman's words, the father of the antiwar movement and the architect of the 1968 demonstrations in Chicago. He remained active in anti-war causes until his death on May 25, 2004 at age 88.

Vilified by critics and glorified by supporters, Dellinger was a man of contradictions: a rigid Ghandian who nonetheless supported violent revolutionary movements; a radical thinker and gifted writer forced to work as a baker to feed his large family; and a charismatic leader who taught his followers to distrust all leaders. Along the way, he encountered Eleanor Roosevelt, Ho Chi Minh, Martin Luther King, Jr., the Black Panthers and all the other major figures of the American Left.

The remarkable story of a stubborn visionary torn between revolution and compromise, David Dellinger reveals the perils of dissent in America through the struggles of one of our most important dissenters.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Hunt gives us insight and understanding into a very complex and extraordinary man.”
-Journal for the Study of Radicalism

,

“Drawing on comprehensive interviews and archival research, Andrew E. Hunt has written a highly informative account of one of the twentieth century's leading figures of American radicalism.”
-The Journal of American History

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“The story of David Dellinger’s half century of leadership in the struggle for peace and social justice in the United States challenges the conventional narrative of recent American political history. Instead of the familiar history-by-decade, in which the radical thirties are followed by the conservative forties and fifties, to be succeeded again by the radical sixties, and so on, Hunt's biography of Dellinger provides readers with a sense of important and underlying continuities in the history of American radicalism.”
-Maurice Isserman,author of If I Had a Hammer: The Death of the Old Left and the Birth of the New Left

“Meticulously researched and gracefully written, Andrew Hunt's splendid biography of David Dellinger follows the courageous revolutionary through six decades of activism while contributing new insights into the colorful history and interactions of pacifist, antiwar, and progressive organizations that shook the American establishment.”
-Melvin Small,Wayne State University

“In this valuable biography, Hunt offers an outstanding description of Dellinger’s political thought and activities over a sixty year period. Particularly interesting, because so little has been written about the subject, is the detailed discussion of Dellinger’s antiwar activities during WWII. At the same time, Hunt is careful to portray a comprehensive view of Dellinger’s career and places him in relation to the work of others in the American left.”
-David J. Langum,author of William M. Kunstler: The Most Hated Lawyer in America

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814736388
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 346
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew E. Hunt is an associate professor at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. He is the author of The Turning: A History of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (NYU Press, 1999).

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