The Way The Wind Blew

Overview

Bombing its way into the headlines of the early 1970s, the Weather Underground was one of the most dramatic symbols of the anger felt by young Americans opposed to the US presence in Vietnam. Mauled in street battles with the Chicago police during the Days of Rage demonstrations, Weather concluded that traditional political protest was insufficient to end the war. They turned instead to underground guerrilla combat.

In this highly readable history, Ron Jacobs captures the ...

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Overview

Bombing its way into the headlines of the early 1970s, the Weather Underground was one of the most dramatic symbols of the anger felt by young Americans opposed to the US presence in Vietnam. Mauled in street battles with the Chicago police during the Days of Rage demonstrations, Weather concluded that traditional political protest was insufficient to end the war. They turned instead to underground guerrilla combat.

In this highly readable history, Ron Jacobs captures the hair-raising drama of a campaign which planted bombs in banks, military installations and, twice on successive days, in the US Capitol. He describes the group’s formation of clandestine revolutionary cells, its leaders’ disavowal of monogamous relationships, and their use of LSD to strengthen bonds between members. He recounts the operational failures of the group—three members died when a bomb they were building exploded in Greenwich Village—as well as its victories including a successful jailbreak of Timothy Leary. Never short-changing the fierce debates which underpinned the Weather’s strategy, Jacobs argues that the groups eventual demise resulted as much from the contradictions of its politics as from the increasingly repressive FBI attention.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A full and harrowing history”—David R. Roediger
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Why privileged white college students felt compelled to bomb ROTC buildings, engage in ferocious street fights with police and spring LSD guru Timothy Leary from a California jail in 1970 would make for a fascinating take on how idealism went awry during the Vietnam War era. Unfortunately, this brief, illustrated history of the Weather Underground, a violent and clandestine splinter group of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), is an ideological tract. Clearly a sympathizer (his dedication is to casualties "in the struggle against racism and imperial war"), Jacobs fails to capture the political passions of either that turbulent time or of its most compelling figures, such as Bernadine Dohrn, who issued revealing manifestos yet managed to elude federal authorities for 11 years until her surrender in 1981. "To anyone who wasn't there," says Jacobs, "it is difficult to comprehend the extent of the fear and suspicion in the New Left and counterculture during the late 1960s and mid-1970s." Jacobs does a good job of detailing the Weather's sexual politics, its infighting, its intense self-criticism. But he could have tried harder to show the human face of madness. When three founding members immolate themselves with anti-personnel bombs they were making in a Greenwich Village townhouse, all he can muster is, "Weather members around the nation were shocked when they heard news March 7 of an explosion in New York City." The Weather Underground dealt a painful and puzzling blow to the body politic, unfortunately Jacobs doesn't get farther than the self-professed ideology. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Jacobs (librarian, Univ. of Vermont-Burlington), a writer for the alternative monthly Works in Progress, presents a political history of the American New Left group Weatherman, a.k.a. Weather Underground Organization or Weather. Jacobs focuses on Weatherman's policy statements, e.g., Prairie Fire (1973), and its politics of revolutionary youth, anti-imperialism, anti-capitalism, and anti-racism. He traces Weatherman from its origins in Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in 1969, through its activist years from late 1969 to mid-1970s (e.g., the October 1969 Days of Rage in Chicago, street protests, and bombings of the U.S. Capitol and other targets), to its demise in the 1980s as its members either were arrested, surrendered, or left the organization. Despite the lack of historical and contextual explanations and a critical evaluation of WUO's actions, Jacob's engaging and sympathetic political narration is recommended for academic and larger public libraries.Charles L. Lumpkins, Bloomsburg Univ. Lib., Pa.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859841679
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 11/17/1997
  • Series: Haymarket Series
  • Pages: 226
  • Sales rank: 801,578
  • Product dimensions: 0.52 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 5.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Raised as a military brat, Ron Jacobs spent many of his child and teen years in US outposts abroad, from Pakistan to Germany. He continued his traveling ways after he left home, hitchhiking around the United States. He writes regularly for Counterpunch, Dissident Voice and other webzines. His essays, articles and reviews have appeared in print and web journals around the world. He currently lives in Burlington, VT.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Acronyms
Preface and Acknowledgements
1 1968: SDS Turns Left 1
2 Weather Dawns: The Break and the Statement 24
3 Into the Streets: Days of Rage 38
4 Down the Tunnel: Going Underground 66
5 Women, the Counter-culture, and the Weather People 90
6 Changing Weather 127
7 A Second Wind? The Prairie Fire Statement 157
8 The End of the Tunnel: Weather and Its Successors 170
Bibliography 188
A Weather Chronology 195
The Cast 203
Index 210
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