Letters to a Young Activist / Edition 1

Letters to a Young Activist / Edition 1

by Todd Gitlin
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Basic Books
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Letters to a Young Activist / Edition 1

In the spirit of '60s activism, one of our era's most influential advocates of social and political change teaches protesters and dissenters how it was done, and how to keep doing it today.

"Be original. See what happens." So Todd Gitlin advises the young mind burning to take action to right the wrongs of the world but also looking for bearings, understanding, direction, and practical examples.

In Letters to a Young Activist, Todd Gitlin looks back at his eventful life, recalling his experience as president of the formidable Students for a Democratic Society in the '60s, contemplating the spirit of activism, and arriving at some principles of action to guide the passion and energy of those wishing to do good. He considers the three complementary motives of duty, love, and adventure, and reflects on the changing nature of idealism and how righteous action requires realistic as well as idealistic thinking. And he looks forward to an uncertain future that is nevertheless full of possibility, a future where patriotism and intelligent skepticism are not mutually exclusive.

Gitlin invites the young activist to enter imaginatively into some of the dilemmas, moral and practical, of being a modern citizen—the dilemmas that affect not only the problems of what to think but also the problems of what to love and how to live.

Author Biography: Todd Gitlin is Professor of Culture, Journalism, and Sociology at New York University and University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of numerous books, including the classic The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage. He lives in New York City.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465027385
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 04/15/2003
Edition description: REV
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.44(h) x 0.72(d)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

Table of Contents

1On Duty, Love and Adventure, or Some Leaps of Faith1
2On the Burden of History, or Several Warped Ways of Looking at the Sixties19
3On Idealism and Right Action, or Nonviolence Unexhausted45
4On Anger, Rage and Guilt, or Temptations of Thinking with Your Blood63
5On Changing the World and Blowing It Up, or Compromising with the Compromised77
6On the Intricate Dance of Outsiders and Insiders, or Shouts Lead to Murmurs91
7On Our Own Character Question, or Uses of Discipline105
8On Rendering unto Identity No More than Identity Is Due, or Limits of Comfort123
9On Anti-Semitism, the Socialism of Fools133
10On Anti-Americanism, or the Temptation of the Automatic No139
11On Patriotism Without Embarrassment, or Saving the World Again159
An Activist's Library173

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Letters to a Young Activist 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is politics with attitude, presented by a former sixties activist who has plenty of sincerity and passion, though he has a somewhat convoluted writing style. Todd Gitlin ¿ the former president of Students for a Democratic Society, the SDS ¿ has a great deal to say, much of it worthwhile, though couched in nostalgic reminiscence of his youthful activism. Given that, former sixties protestors may find more here than current rightist young idealists. His observations on the faults of the Left and the strength of the Right are, if not original, stimulating. He does draw potentially useful lessons from the sixties, as seen through his prism of leftist activism and leadership. We recommend this fast, historic and forward-looking read. In these turbulent times, Gitlin encourages participation, discourages violence and believes the individual can still make a difference. Who could quarrel with that?