Let Them Call Me Rebel: Saul Alinsky--His Life and Work

Sanford D. Horwitt, Author Alfred A. Knopf $29.95 (595p) ISBN 978-0-394-57243-7
Folk hero to 1960s student activists, community organizer Saul Alinsky (1909-1972) believed that citizenship meant participation and a questioning attitude toward authority. Raised in a Chicago slum by Russian-Jewish parents, he started out as a criminologist working with imprisoned mobsters and teenage gangs. Organizing a neighborhood council in Chicago's stockyard transformed him into a social activist. In this solid biography, Horwitt, a political consultant to advocacy groups, limns two sides of Alinsky: the self-promoter and fundraiser with elitist connections, and the populist who was adept at rallying apathetic, demoralized people against racism, slum landlords, poverty and unresponsive institutions. Alinsky's personal tragedies--his first wife drowned, his second wife had multiple sclerosis--seemed to drive him harder in crusading for social justice. His sharp criticism of what he saw as shortcomings in the civil rights movement and the federal war on poverty make this book timely. Photos. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 11/01/1989
Release date: 11/01/1989
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 618 pages - 978-0-679-73418-5
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