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“This compelling sequel to Ayers’ Fugitive Days describes the author’s chaotic life after he and his wife, Bernadette Dohrn, became the topic and target of conversation during Barack Obama’s first run for the presidency. . . . Demonized and blacklisted, Ayers maintains not only his sanity but also his humor. . . . A wonderful homage to free speech.” —Booklist, starred review
“The one-time Weather Underground fugitive talks about his life as a political bogeyman. . . . His writing is thoughtful, penetratingly insightful and marvelously lacking in self-pity.
No matter how they feel about his politics, readers of this memoir should find the author’s humanity irresistible.” —Kirkus Reviews
“The legendary Bill Ayers is at his spellbinding best in Public Enemy—a brilliant, spirited document of a revolutionary life in our not-so-revolutionary age. One of the most compelling, insightful memoirs of the year.” —Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
“An inspiring, ripping read. Apart from being a committed activist, engaging thinker, and brilliant parent, Bill Ayers is a great storyteller.” —Aleksandar Hemon, author ofThe Lazarus Project
“Bill Ayers is a master teacher, a master storyteller, and a clarion-clear voice of conscience and commitment. Here he is, standing calmly at the center of the never-ending maelstrom, a public enemy trying to make meaning and change and sense of it all.” —Adam Mansbach, author of Rage Is Back
“Bill Ayers writes eloquently of the profound challenges, the joys, and the toll of embracing a deep, lifelong commitment to social change. He has confronted power for more than half a century: in the civil rights movement, against the Vietnam War, living underground for over a decade, and during his long career as a respected educator. This deeply personal memoir spans the gap from the ’60s to the present day, framing the current so-called war on terror in a critical, urgent light.” —Amy Goodman, author of The Exception to the Rulers
“With incisive humor, Bill Ayers’s captivating memoir reveals that behind the fearsome ‘public enemy’ lies a deeply dedicated parent, compassionate teacher, and principled revolutionary activist, representing this country’s best hopes for a democratic future." —Angela Davis, author of Women, Race, and Class
“In no way apologetic, the book is a well-written consideration of an engaged life lived in a contentious time." —Counterpunch
From the Hardcover edition.
PROLOGUE: Spring, 2008, Chicago 1
ONE: A New American Revolution 15
TWO: Up and Running 25
THREE: Learning to Walk 48
FOUR: Fugitive Days/Fugitive Nights 79
FIVE: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised 113
SIX: Palling Around 123
SEVEN: Talking with the Tea Party 146
EIGHT: Only Dissent Can Save Us 182
EPILOGUE: Grant Park, Chicago, November 4, 2008 220
Posted January 4, 2014
Public Enemy is a book for political true believers of all stripes across the national and global stage. Building on a literary foundation that represents some of best crafted prose of the year, Ayers offers much to savor. He takes us to venues near and far, introducing us to friends and political celebrities, new acquaintances and a few birds of a very different feather while imbedding homilies on the ideals, principles of justice, democracy and work for peace we all seek to sustain.
But Bill Ayers' memoir is more than politics writ large. I really appreciated the day to day details of Bill and Bernadine Dohrn raising their young family in the 80's while reminding us of what's is most important in nurturing healthy, self-actualizing and socially responsible children.
Through numerous encounters Ayers tells the lessons of men and women, students and children across the generations who inspired as well as challenged him to stick to his better instincts. Among the many lessons, I loved the section on Mike Klonsky, a long time Ayers' friend and Chicago education activist who reminds Bill that resistance to those seeking to silence all of our voices is the real issue each of us is confronting. When Bill thanks Mike for defending him by refusing to participate in an education conference which has barred Bill, Mike sternly replies, "Defending you? I wasn't defending you, I was defending myself. . . I am as radical as you are . . . . "
Then, there is principled commitment of the people at Millersville University who welcome and provide space for Bill when so many liberals ran for cover in face of the national discourse condemning our so-called 'unrepentant terrorist'. As a historian and aging activist I also loved the importance Ayers finds for honoring and learning from our elder activists like 90 year old , legendary Greek dissident Manolis Glezos.
For all of us who have stood up to the threats and actions of those in power who have tried to intimidate and silence our principled voices in the daily political grind of living in and challenging the existing order, Pubic Enemy offers welcomed sustenance, often even good humor, and for certain needed energy to keep us moving forward. Thanks Bill.