A Tale of Two Utopias: The Political Journey of the Generation of 1968

Paul Berman, Author W. W. Norton & Company $24 (351p) ISBN 978-0-393-03927-6
Long identified with the left, Berman (editor of Debating P.C.) writes with ambition and savvy about an impossibly broad subject: the left's journey from its multiple 1968 revolutions--not merely the student and cultural uprisings, but the world attack on Western imperialism and the counterattack, within the communist bloc, against the entrenched dictatorships. Though he does not take on topics like feminism or race, Berman's global reach--he discusses generational splits in left-wing movements from Mexico to France--makes his book intriguing and provocative. He then assays ""the gay awakening,"" charting the Stonewall-era assumption of group identity to the rise of world gay consciousness. Next, he shifts to discuss Vaclav Havel, who he argues exemplified a movement not for socialist reconstruction but for personal integrity and became influenced by the French ""'68er"" Andre Glucksmann, who scored Western peaceniks for underestimating the oppression and expansionism of the Soviet Union. Finally, in the wake of the 1989 revolutions against communism, Berman tests Glucksmann's pessimism about progress with conservative Francis Fukuyama's ""end of history"" thesis about the inevitable success of Western democracy. Thanks to his biographical exegesis of Glucksmann's thought, Berman finds the Frenchman more convincing and, somewhat chastened, suggests the route from 1968 to 1989 should leave the world ""humble, skeptical, anxious, afraid, shaken."" Author tour. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1996
Release date: 07/01/1996
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-393-31675-9
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