Red Star Sister: Between Madness and Utopia

Overview

Leslie Brody's account of coming of age in the radical counterculture of the late sixties and early seventies takes her on an unpredictable odyssey from an awkward adolescence on Long Island to paramilitary training in Chicago, communal living in Ann Arbor, violent protests in the streets of San Francisco, and finally on a quixotic journey via Amsterdam and London to meet with North Vietnamese leaders in Paris to end the war.
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Overview

Leslie Brody's account of coming of age in the radical counterculture of the late sixties and early seventies takes her on an unpredictable odyssey from an awkward adolescence on Long Island to paramilitary training in Chicago, communal living in Ann Arbor, violent protests in the streets of San Francisco, and finally on a quixotic journey via Amsterdam and London to meet with North Vietnamese leaders in Paris to end the war.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
There are fascinating moments in this memoir of a young woman living during the 1960s counterculture, but Brody takes herself so seriously that she often sabotages her own undertaking with ponderous commentary. She compares a tough first-grade teacher to Nixon, because "[n]either could tolerate opposition, and both were determined to crush dissent." At her suburban high school in the late 1960s, Brody and a friend who also had long hair were hair-sprayed by primmer students. "Their intent," she writes, "was to immobilize our hair and, by extension, our minds." Once she'd graduated from high school, Brody hit the road, ending up at a communal house in Chicago with the White Panther Party, where she was the token feminist yet still expected to do the dishes. After a short stint in Ann Arbor, Mich., she boarded an old school bus with a group bound for Pittsburgh, Pa. Claiming to have few memories of that trip, she offers verbatim journal entries instead. If Brody's retrospective voice can be heavy-handed, her youthful diary has no sense of irony whatsoever, although this earnest chapter does have a few humorous moments ("NOTE TO MYSELF. Never take hallucinogens in a police station again!"). Brody continued to write for alternative papers, putting out a column under the name Buckwheat Groats, and eventually she headed to Europe, where she hoped to show up at the Paris peace talks and end the Vietnam War. Brody certainly had her share of fascinating experiences, and for the most part this is a smooth read, but even now, with years of hindsight, she seems at a loss to say what those experiences meant. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Brody (ed., Daughters of Kings, Faber & Faber, 1997) elegantly chronicles her life as a young woman from a Long Island suburb who came of age during the Vietnam War. Recounting her journey into the Sixties counterculture of antiwar demonstrations, Woodstock, participation in the White Panther Party, and presence at the Paris peace talks, Brody conveys "some sense of the utopianism and the complicated vision of country and self that dazzled so many of us in the age we held in common" with crisp writing and captivating honesty. She neither glorifies her life nor hesitates to reveal both the courageous and foolish aspects of her choices. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.--Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
A self-critical but refreshingly unrepentant memoir of '60s radicalism. Born in 1952, Brody grew up in working-class Riverhead and Massapequa, New York (her father ran þa five-acre auto- wrecking yardþ), before acquiring the sex, drugs, and rock 'nþ roll credentials of her older contemporaries: she tripped in the Haight, took in Woodstock, jetted to Europe on Icelandic Air, and smoked hash in Amsterdam. All of this she recounts with good humor, capturing the seize-the-day spirit of the times with an easy grace. Writing of the aftermath of the Kent State shootings, for instance, she recalls an invitation by a young hipster to share his sleeping bag before a demonstration: þIn that eve-of-battle atmosphere, I thought, why not? If they use live ammunition tomorrowþI could die a virgin.þ She also spent time on the fringes of the Left, arguing with her old-guard radical father over Vietnam and logging time with the White Panther Party (from which she earned the designation þRed Star Sisterþ). As she puts it: þI was moving spasmodically, from plot point to plot point, like a character in a melodrama.þ All these experiences mark the turmoil and idealism to which her subtitle alludes, and she writes of them skillfully and without self-indulgence. Although she clearly rues some of the rhetorical (and the daily) excesses of the New Left, Brody refuses to follow the path of David Horowitz and other '60s rebels-turned-rightists. þBy telling you this story of the war years in terms of my own life,þ she instead volunteers, þI hope to salvage some sense of the utopianism and the complicated vision of country andself that dazzled so many of us in the age we held in common.þ Casually convincing sentences and a steadfast memory make this a representative memoir of a troubled era.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781886913158
  • Publisher: Ruminator Books
  • Publication date: 8/1/1998
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 8.95 (h) x 0.63 (d)

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