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A Hard Rain Fell: SDS and Why It Failed [Hardcover]

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Item description for A Hard Rain Fell: SDS and Why It Failed by David Barber...

By the spring of 1969, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) had reached its zenith as the largest, most radical movement of white youth in American history--a genuine New Left. Yet less than a year later, SDS splintered into warring factions and ceased to exist.

SDS's development and its dissolution grew directly out of the organization's relations with the black freedom movement, the movement against the Vietnam War, and the newly emerging struggle for women's liberation. For a moment, young white people could comprehend their world in new and revolutionary ways. But New Leftists did not respond as a tabula rasa. On the contrary, these young people's consciousnesses, their culture, their identities had arisen out of a history which, for hundreds of years, had privileged white over black, men over women, and America over the rest of the world. Such a history could not help but distort the vision and practice of these activists, good intentions notwithstanding.

A Hard Rain: SDS and Why It Failed traces these activists in their relation to other movements and demonstrates that the New Left's dissolution flowed directly from SDS's failure to break with traditional American notions of race, sex, and empire.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   320
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6.1" Height: 1.1"
Weight:   1.3 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Feb 1, 2008
Publisher   Univ Pr of Mississippi
ISBN  1934110175  
ISBN13  9781934110171  

Availability  0 units.

More About David Barber

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! David Barber is a journalist, author, composer and performer who lives and works in Toronto.

Dave Donald works as an art director for a Toronto-based national magazine.

David Barber was born in 1951.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > History > United States
2Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > 20th Century > 1960s
3Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > 20th Century > General
4Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > General
5Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Education > College & University > General
6Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > Ideologies > Radical Thought
7Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Education > By Level > College

Reviews - What do customers think about A Hard Rain Fell: SDS and Why It Failed?

Lights the Path for Future Organizing  Aug 29, 2008
"A Hard Rain Fell" was hard to find. But I was finally able to borrow a copy from a distant library. It's an expensive book. I don't often plunk down $40 for a book. But after reading the library version, I had to have one to mark up in pencil. This one is worth the 40 bucks.

Until I began reading about SDS this year, I didn't realize its roots were in the civil rights movement - that many in SDS were committed to continuing the civil rights work - to abolish racism in the U.S. A worthy goal - but a dance that white organizers tried to master, yet ended up stumbling all over their own clunky privileged walking shoes.

Not only does "A Hard Rain Fell" chart the trajectory of SDS' destruction, the book's analysis of how white and male privilege interfered with the best intentions of 60s and 70s activists illuminates a still persistent problem. White privilege continues to blind white folks to the support position we must assume in throwing off the chains of oppression to achieve widespread liberation.

It may seem that there are fewer people available now to do the work that was left unfinished in the 60s and 70s, but if we take Stokely Carmichael's challenge to organize against racism in white communities first -- we will build the movement that must grow and thrive if we are ever to see real change. As book author David Barber paraphrases Anne Braeden, "you could not organize white people without placing racism at the center of the agenda 'from the very beginning.'"

And now, here we are, in an election year that thrusts so much unacknowledged racism out into the open. Here's yet another opportunity to take the best from "A Hard Rain Fell," and use it to make a difference. It may not involve demonstrations or takeovers of buildings. It may not be the kind of movement that makes heroes of those who do the work or allows you to project your own unacknowledged racism onto someone else and call him or her wrong (ah, that satisfaction that comes from confronting worse people than yourself! -- Later for that kind of breast-beating, friends). Trying to be or provide the vehicle that dawns awareness on someone new or strengthens new awareness in ourselves and in those around us is the consciousness most of us have yet to attain (and nurture).

David Barber has given us a glimpse of how we can move forward from here. I highly recommend "A Hard Rain Fell" by David Barber.


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