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By the Light of Burning Dreams: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Second American Revolution

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New York Times bestselling author David Talbot and New Yorker journalist Margaret Talbot illuminate “America’s second revolutionary generation” in this gripping history of one of the most dynamic eras of the twentieth century—brought to life through seven defining radical moments that offer vibrant parallels and lessons for today. The political landscape of the 1960s and 19 New York Times bestselling author David Talbot and New Yorker journalist Margaret Talbot illuminate “America’s second revolutionary generation” in this gripping history of one of the most dynamic eras of the twentieth century—brought to life through seven defining radical moments that offer vibrant parallels and lessons for today. The political landscape of the 1960s and 1970s was perhaps one of the most tumultuous in this country's history, shaped by the fight for civil rights, women’s liberation, Black power, and the end to the Vietnam War. In many ways, this second American revolution was a belated fulfillment of the betrayed promises of the first, striving to extend the full protections of the Bill of Rights to non-white, non-male, non-elite Americans excluded by the nation’s founders. Based on exclusive interviews, original documents, and archival research, By the Light of Burning Dreams explores critical moments in the lives of a diverse cast of iconoclastic leaders of the twentieth century radical movement: Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers; Heather Booth and the Jane Collective, the first underground feminist abortion clinic; Vietnam War peace activists Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda; Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers; Craig Rodwell and the Gay Pride movement; Dennis Banks, Madonna Thunder Hawk, Russell Means and the warriors of Wounded Knee; and John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s politics of stardom. Margaret and David Talbot reveal the epiphanies that galvanized these modern revolutionaries and created unexpected connections and alliances between individual movements and across race, class, and gender divides.   America is still absorbing—and reacting against—the revolutionary forces of this tumultuous period. The change these leaders enacted demanded much of American society and the human imagination. By the Light of Burning Dreams is an immersive and compelling chronicle of seven lighting rods of change and the generation that engraved itself in American narrative—and set the stage for those today, fighting to bend forward the arc of history.  By the Light of Burning Dreams includes a 16-page black-and-white photo insert.


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New York Times bestselling author David Talbot and New Yorker journalist Margaret Talbot illuminate “America’s second revolutionary generation” in this gripping history of one of the most dynamic eras of the twentieth century—brought to life through seven defining radical moments that offer vibrant parallels and lessons for today. The political landscape of the 1960s and 19 New York Times bestselling author David Talbot and New Yorker journalist Margaret Talbot illuminate “America’s second revolutionary generation” in this gripping history of one of the most dynamic eras of the twentieth century—brought to life through seven defining radical moments that offer vibrant parallels and lessons for today. The political landscape of the 1960s and 1970s was perhaps one of the most tumultuous in this country's history, shaped by the fight for civil rights, women’s liberation, Black power, and the end to the Vietnam War. In many ways, this second American revolution was a belated fulfillment of the betrayed promises of the first, striving to extend the full protections of the Bill of Rights to non-white, non-male, non-elite Americans excluded by the nation’s founders. Based on exclusive interviews, original documents, and archival research, By the Light of Burning Dreams explores critical moments in the lives of a diverse cast of iconoclastic leaders of the twentieth century radical movement: Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers; Heather Booth and the Jane Collective, the first underground feminist abortion clinic; Vietnam War peace activists Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda; Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers; Craig Rodwell and the Gay Pride movement; Dennis Banks, Madonna Thunder Hawk, Russell Means and the warriors of Wounded Knee; and John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s politics of stardom. Margaret and David Talbot reveal the epiphanies that galvanized these modern revolutionaries and created unexpected connections and alliances between individual movements and across race, class, and gender divides.   America is still absorbing—and reacting against—the revolutionary forces of this tumultuous period. The change these leaders enacted demanded much of American society and the human imagination. By the Light of Burning Dreams is an immersive and compelling chronicle of seven lighting rods of change and the generation that engraved itself in American narrative—and set the stage for those today, fighting to bend forward the arc of history.  By the Light of Burning Dreams includes a 16-page black-and-white photo insert.

50 review for By the Light of Burning Dreams: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Second American Revolution

  1. 4 out of 5

    Viola

    Source: https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/07/... Who Made the Sixties? The People or the Celebs? By Jonah Raskin. @CounterPunch July 2021. Who built the seven gates of Thebes? The books are filled with names of kings. Was it the kings who hauled the craggy blocks of stone? And Babylon, so many times destroyed. Who built the city up each time? In which of Lima’s houses, That city glittering with gold, lived those who built it? – Bertolt Brecht, from “A Worker Reads History” Bertolt Brecht’s most widely read Source: https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/07/... Who Made the Sixties? The People or the Celebs? By Jonah Raskin. @CounterPunch July 2021. Who built the seven gates of Thebes? The books are filled with names of kings. Was it the kings who hauled the craggy blocks of stone? And Babylon, so many times destroyed. Who built the city up each time? In which of Lima’s houses, That city glittering with gold, lived those who built it? – Bertolt Brecht, from “A Worker Reads History” Bertolt Brecht’s most widely read poem in the 1960s was “A Worker Reads History.” Though Brecht wrote it in German in 1936, and though a great many Sixties folk were not enthusiastic about the working classes, the poem struck a nerve with a generation eager to make history of their own. Decades later, one might ask how much or how little history did the self-styled revolutionaries actually make? They were certainly blamed for many of the ills of society. Near the end of his days as a cultural revolutionary, Abbie Hoffman explained, facetiously, that he was responsible for crime in the streets, kids acting out, drug addiction and the absence of standards to judge works of literature, film and music. Hoffman was reacting to the assaults on the Sixties and the smears on his own personality. Even before the decade of the 1960s ended, critics of the counterculture and the anti-war movement lambasted radicals, feminists and left wing ideologists for creating anarchy and fomenting chaos. Over the past five decades, the culture wars—with defenders of the Sixties on one side and detractors on the other—have not abated. “The Sixties” are still scapegoated; the generation that embraced sex, drugs, rock ‘n’roll and rebellion are still held responsible for the decline of the American empire. That’s giving them far more credit than they deserve. A work of art on exhibit at the Morgan in New York seems to exemplify this state of affairs. Titled “Hellish Sixties,” it depicts a figure with obscured eyes and the phrase “you are very sleepy,” which suggests a kind of mass hypnosis. The work includes a transcribed letter to the editor of Vogue magazine which explains, “The sixties were not glamorous or innocent as your October issue would have us believe…It was pure hell.” Hell for some, heaven for others, or hell/heaven for folks like me who felt ambivalent at the time, though less so now. It’s easier to accept the era in hindsight than it was to live through the war, the arrests, jail and confrontations in the streets. For the most part, By the Light of Burning Dreams (Harper) honors “the triumphs of the Sixties,” though it does not neglect “the tragedies.” The book, which is by David Talbot and Margaret Talbot (a brother and sister team)—with help from Arthur Allen, Margaret’s husband, as well as Camille Peri, David’s wife—is divided into eight chapters, plus an introduction. I might call By the Light, a work of history as biography and an exploration of the role of celebrities in the making of the era. The Talbots, who are widely published and widely acclaimed, focus on Sixties figures, such as Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda and John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who made a mark on history. The Talbots also chronicle the rise and fall of prominent Sixties organizations and groups such as The Black Panthers, the United Farm Workers and the American Indian Movement, though their emphasis is on individuals, not on mass organizations. By the Light is a pleasure to read. It’s well-researched, consciously crafted and thoughtfully arranged. Much of the material will be eye-opening to Americans who didn’t come of age until the Obama years. Veterans of the Sixties will probably recognize most of the people and groups that are profiled in these pages, but they will likely be surprised even if they protested in the streets of Chicago in the summer of 1968, gathered at Woodstock the following year and watched the Watergate hearings on TV in 1973. By the Light offers surprises. Heather Booth isn’t an unknown feminist, but the Talbots aim to shine a spotlight on her. Indeed, they give her more attention than she has so far received in the annals of the era, including Todd Gitlin’s classic, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage, which covers the history in great detail and that also has political axes to grind. Gitlin argues that the Sixties ended in December 1969. He neglects the large anti-war demonstrations that took place in the early 1970s, and the spread of feminism and the counterculture. The Talbots are mostly not interested in settling scores, though they make judgments about the efficacy of political gestures like the Panther romance with guns and Cesar Chavez’s drift away from field workers into his own head. Like Heather Booth, Craig Rodwell, another figure in these pages, isn’t widely known outside the gay liberation movement, though he played a big part in persuading closeted men and women to come out and to demonstrate in the streets. The Talbots accord Rodwell the recognition he deserves. The authors aim to balance the role of crowds with the role of leaders like Hayden, Bobby Seale, Cesar Chavez and Dennis Banks. But they tend to come down on the side of leaders, or “celebrities” as they call them. By my count that word celebrities appears more than a dozen times in these pages. Barbara Walters is defined as a “celebrity hound” and New York is described as the “capital of celebrity culture.” I lived in New York from 1967 to 1974, a time when so-called celebrities were accessible. I did not have to go out of my way to meet Jerry Rubin, Bill Kunstler, Marge Piercy, Bernardine Dohrn and Susan Sontag who mixed with crowds in the streets, at meetings and in courtrooms. It may be helpful to say that while men like Hayden and Seale were famous in the movements they helped to jump start and fuel, they were largely unknown to Americans who got their news from Walter Cronkite and Barbara Walters. Some leaders had ten minutes of fame before they passed into the pages of obscurity. Aaron Sorkin’s greatly flawed feature, The Trial of the Chicago Seven, has done more to alert twenty-something year olds about the defendants in Judge Julius Hoffman’s courtroom than any other recent movie or book. And that’s a good thing. By the Light of Burning Dreams comes along at precisely the right time to deepen and widen the view of the Sixties that’s held by those who have come of age with the Black Lives Matter movement and #Me Too. This book is written with the events of the last few years in mind, though thankfully it doesn’t try to draw direct lines between then and now. The authors respect the intelligence of their readers. About two thirds of the way through their book, the Talbots write that “any uprising” is “a call and response between the crowd and individual actors in it.” Indeed, sometimes the crowd anticipates the headliner, and, as sly Sly Stone sang, “Everybody is a star,” “everybody wants to shine.” That was another way of saying what Brecht said in “A Worker Reads History.” Fom my point of view, the Talbots exaggerate the role of celebrities and don’t give nearly enough credit to the many many people (the crowds) who belonged to SDS, the Panthers, the Yippies, the White Panthers, The Gay Liberation Front, the United Farm Workers, and the women’s movement. The authors clearly made a conscious decision to emphasize the stars of the Sixties show. Near the start of By the Light, the authors offer a quotation from Berkeley activist and lawyer Anne Weills who observes that while Tom Hayden “believed that individual agents make history,” she and the women in the Red Family emphasized “collective leadership,”and that “the masses make history.” By focusing on celebrities, the Talbots add something new and different to our understanding of the Sixties. They also recognize the pitfalls of stardom and know that a celebrity can unfortunately create a cult of his or her own personality and undo some of the work they had done. By the Light swings the pendulum too far toward what the Talbots call “the politics of stardom” and “celebrity activism.” Sometimes they also exaggerate for effect. They call the events at Wounded Knee in the early 1970s, “the most courageous and sustained Native American uprising in the twentieth century.” Maybe. What about the occupation of Alcatraz which preceded Wounded Knee? Why does there have to be a “most”? And why do the authors have to say that Tom and Jane were “one of the most formidable couples in American politics”? Eldridge and Kathleen Cleaver were also a formidable couple and so were Abbie and Jerry. Couples come in many shapes and sizes. They come from every corner of the North American continent and from every social class and ethnic group. Some are white collar, others blue collar. I have one story I have to tell. At an Italian restaurant with my pal Tom Hayden, the owner who was Jewish and gay, looked at him and asked, “Where do I know you from?” Tom gazed at the man and said, “I’m Dustin Hoffman.” The owner shook his head. “No you’re not,” Tom replied, “I’m Tom Hayden.” The owner said, “You’re the guy who was married to Jane Fonda.” Perhaps that’s how history will remember him, not as the author of the Port Huron Statement and not as a California politico, but as Mr. Jane Fonda. Hollywood fame surpasses movement fame. By the Light of Burning Dreams accords Hayden the attention he deserves. It honors many largely unsung and unheralded individuals, including Stew Albert, Judy Gumbo. Bill Zimmerman, Dolores Huerta, Madonna Thunder Hawk, Kiyoshi Kuromiya and Shinya Ono, who became a friend and a comrade. Open the pages of this elegantly written and provocative book and meet the usual and unusual suspects in all their glory and with all their charisma. And don’t forget, “Power to the People!” Power to the celebrities just doesn’t have the same appeal. ++++++ Jonah Raskin is the author of For The Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman and American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ and the Making of the Beat Generation.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey (Akiva) Savett

    This was a page turner from the start. Siblings David and Margaret Talbot put forward a clear and compelling thesis: the American Revolution was (is?!?!) incomplete. When the founders delayed trying to build bridges across the bleeding cracks in the foundation of America in favor of short term order, they undermined that order. The Talbots argue that progressives and revolutionaries of the 1960s and 1970s represent a Second American Revolution. One that seeks to deal with America’s settlement cr This was a page turner from the start. Siblings David and Margaret Talbot put forward a clear and compelling thesis: the American Revolution was (is?!?!) incomplete. When the founders delayed trying to build bridges across the bleeding cracks in the foundation of America in favor of short term order, they undermined that order. The Talbots argue that progressives and revolutionaries of the 1960s and 1970s represent a Second American Revolution. One that seeks to deal with America’s settlement cracks not just by plugging them with spackle and covering the work over with paint—but by shining a light ON those cracks, in some cases, causing a total reevaluation of our structures. For many readers, ironically, this may sound like a pretty modest or tame argument. Of course the liberal movements of the 60s and 70s sought to redress fundamental civic disparities. For me, however, viewing these movements as extensions of Thomas Paine, the early abolitionists, and colonial business reformers, raises the stakes at risk in each of the book’s thrilling biographies. That’s the other thing I very much enjoyed: the book’s breadth. Obviously, whenever you’re going for coverage, you might have to make concessions to depth depending upon how much space you have. And that’s true here. Each of these chapter subjects warrant entire studies. But the Talbots hit a near perfect balance between the two; they kept me reading hungrily while also giving me plenty of novel passages to take notes on. In the list of subjects/biographies below, you’ll see many names with which you’re familiar. Two things though. First, even within these familiar stories—for me, I’ve done quite a bit of reading about the Black Panthers—the Talbots manage to uncover and convey new information, and for the most part, they’re not after hagiography here. For instance, in the aforementioned chapter on the Black Panthers, the authors substantively address how Newton’s mercurialism and Cleaver’s temper, domestic abuse, and struggles with drugs weakened the movements they helped foster. Look, we’re talking about, in David Talbot, one of the founders of Mother Jones. So let’s not pretend that what we’re reading is unbiased. But that’s silly. Everything IS biased; history written by the powerful was—for me—the FIRST history I was taught. To quote Bob Marley (and others), “Half the story has never been told.” Second, there are many names I DIDN’T know. The chapters on Craig Rodwell, Dennis Banks, Russell Means, Madonna Thunder Hawk, Dolores Huerta, and Heather Booth and the Janes are revelatory. The subjects of the individual chapters are as follows: Vietnam/Red Scare/Cold War: Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda Race: Bobby Seale, Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver and the Black Panthers Feminism: Heather Booth and the Women of Jane Labor Rights: Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and La Causa Gay Rights: Craig Rodwell and the Oscar Wilde Memorial Book Shop Stardom and Peace: John Lennon and Yoko Ono Native American Humanity: Dennis Banks, Madonna Thunder Hawk, Russell Means, and the Warriors of Wounded Knee

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Cobb Sabatini

    I won an Uncorrected Proof of By the Light of Burning Dreams: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Second American Revolution by David Talbot and Margaret Talbot from Goodreads. By the Light of Burning Dreams: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Second American Revolution by David Talbot and Margaret Talbot is an excellent, informative book concerning an important part of our national history that is rarely taught in schools. Broken down into seven chapters that each cover a distinct movement, the aut I won an Uncorrected Proof of By the Light of Burning Dreams: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Second American Revolution by David Talbot and Margaret Talbot from Goodreads. By the Light of Burning Dreams: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Second American Revolution by David Talbot and Margaret Talbot is an excellent, informative book concerning an important part of our national history that is rarely taught in schools. Broken down into seven chapters that each cover a distinct movement, the authors guide readers to understand the initiation of each movement and the on-going struggles. The topics covered are the anti-war movement of the Vietnam War and the movements for equal rights by Blacks, Women, Laborers, the LGBQT community, and Native Americans. The re is also a chapter dedicated to Human Rights. The authors' writing style makes this book accessible for everyone, including school-aged readers, and this superb resource should be offered in classrooms and libraries throughout the country.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Great book for those wanting an overview of man of the movements surrounding the 60's and 70's. Most of us know Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, John Lennon, Harvey Milk and Jane Fonda, but do you know who the Jane's were? Cesar Chaves? Dennis Banks? Booby Seale or Craig Rodwell? If you know the name, do you know what they stood for? Why are they important? This book takes a look at some of the lesser known as well as the more famous and what they did to carry on the light of the civil rights m Great book for those wanting an overview of man of the movements surrounding the 60's and 70's. Most of us know Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, John Lennon, Harvey Milk and Jane Fonda, but do you know who the Jane's were? Cesar Chaves? Dennis Banks? Booby Seale or Craig Rodwell? If you know the name, do you know what they stood for? Why are they important? This book takes a look at some of the lesser known as well as the more famous and what they did to carry on the light of the civil rights movement. You will learn many things that the news won't tell you now and wouldn't tell you then. This book certainly does not go in depth into any of the various movements since it is only 331 pages, but in seven chapters it peaks your interest and leaves you wanting to know more about each of those movements. You think the Civil Rights movement was for only the rights of African Americans? Think again. This book will open your eyes to things that have been left out of history.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nayeli

    Worth reading for the chapters on the Black Panthers, the origins of the Pride march, César Chávez and the NFWA, and the American Indian Movement. The book's greatest strength is in openly discussing how personality quirks and human foibles affect and inform political work, and, even more importantly, how the very systems we are trying to deconstruct are inevitably also part of the fabric of our being, so that we cannot require or assume ethical or political perfection from those pushing for cha Worth reading for the chapters on the Black Panthers, the origins of the Pride march, César Chávez and the NFWA, and the American Indian Movement. The book's greatest strength is in openly discussing how personality quirks and human foibles affect and inform political work, and, even more importantly, how the very systems we are trying to deconstruct are inevitably also part of the fabric of our being, so that we cannot require or assume ethical or political perfection from those pushing for change in order to move forward. A humbling reminder, in my opinion, for the left to resist cancel culture and remember to band together across differences to combat oppression.

  6. 4 out of 5

    L. Bordetsky-Williams

    This is an important book. I couldn't put it down once I started reading it. While I missed seeing any mention of such leaders as Angela Davis and Gloria Steinem, the portraits of movement leaders, some well-known and others more obscure, were truly complex and fascinating. I came away feeling that we need to keep fighting for human rights, no matter what. This is an important book. I couldn't put it down once I started reading it. While I missed seeing any mention of such leaders as Angela Davis and Gloria Steinem, the portraits of movement leaders, some well-known and others more obscure, were truly complex and fascinating. I came away feeling that we need to keep fighting for human rights, no matter what.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    It’s hard to believe sometimes how much really was going on during the ‘60s and ‘70s. I’ve wanted to believe we’d come a long way since then, but in many ways, it seems we haven’t. Some of the information I already knew, but much I didn’t. Educational, and certainly eye opening, I recommend By the Light of Burning Dreams. I received a copy of this book for free through Goodreads giveaways.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    I won this in a Goodreads giveaway. Very interesting recent history. Sadly we are still fighting these battles.

  9. 4 out of 5

    jennet wheatstonelllsl

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tony

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shuchita

  13. 4 out of 5

    LeAnn

  14. 4 out of 5

    John Kabala

  15. 4 out of 5

    J.W.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jad Ouaissi

  17. 5 out of 5

    Todd

  18. 4 out of 5

    ProudMom

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alma Petterson

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  23. 5 out of 5

    Steve Walker

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  25. 4 out of 5

    Elina

  26. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Bull Chafin

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nevona Friedman

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kusaimamekirai

  30. 4 out of 5

    Victoria (RedsCat)

  31. 4 out of 5

    Leo

  32. 5 out of 5

    Brian Guillaume

  33. 5 out of 5

    Abby Hughes

  34. 4 out of 5

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  35. 4 out of 5

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  36. 5 out of 5

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  37. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Phung

  38. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  39. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

  40. 5 out of 5

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  41. 4 out of 5

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  42. 5 out of 5

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  43. 5 out of 5

    Lori Bennett

  44. 5 out of 5

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  45. 5 out of 5

    Douglass Abramson

  46. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Gerhart

  47. 4 out of 5

    Faith From TBRP Blog

  48. 4 out of 5

    Bettye Short

  49. 4 out of 5

    Jen Schlott

  50. 5 out of 5

    Kim Ellis

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