Now in her 80s, Webb reminisces on a life in which she nursed California migrant farm workers, posed for Dal and organized for the Socialist Worker's Party. She financed these activities by working as an actress and model, mingling with people like Walter Winchell and James Baldwin. But the author, who is white, is perhaps best known for her relationships with intellectual black activists and writers Richard Wright and C.L.R. James. She befriended Wright in her 20s and, much later, became his biographer. She began corresponding with James at 19, after hearing him speak about racial politics. While her interest was initially romantic, the two corresponded for nearly a decade before marrying briefly (and having a son together). Clearly, Webb took risks, yet she describes how, as a young woman, she also conformed to norms. Indeed, she obeyed the teenage Socialist boys growing up in Fresno, Calif., who suggested she lose her virginity to her boyfriend because "neither you nor he will be able to concentrate on the most important aspect of your lives-the creation of a Leninist-Trotskyist Party-if either of you is sexually deprived." Webb is a good storyteller, but better editing could have yielded a more powerful social history. She uses little primary source material and doesn't cite interviews with comrades or family members. Webb's memoir ends in the late 1950s when, approaching 40, she questions and separates from the leftist political group she'd long identified with. She struggles with the separation, writing, "there is emotional safety in agreement with others and I was unused to thinking for myself except when dreaming." Readers are left to wonder what happens when Webb does start to think and act for herself. Photos. (Nov. 7) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.