If I Had a Hammer--: The Death of the Old Left and the Birth of the New Left

Maurice Isserman, Author Basic Books $18.95 (259p) ISBN 978-0-465-03197-9
Isserman's provocative theme is the New Left's unacknowledged ties to the Old Left that it has repudiated. His scholarly history is useful in tracing the roots of contemporary U.S. radicalism. Conscientious objectors who refused to fight in World War II participated in postwar communal experiments. Their Americanized version of Gandhi's pacifism would inform the civil rights movement as well as civil defense protests of the early 1960s. Author of Which Side Were You On?, a study of the American Communist Party, Isserman here examines the CP's collapse in the late 1950s. He portrays renegade socialist Max Shachtman, mentor of Michael Harrington and Irving Howe, as a manipulative recluse fond of sectarian squabbles. The author takes his story up to Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a common ground where New Leftists forged a politics of personal morality while members of the old guard discarded outdated dogmas. (September 22)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
Paperback - 259 pages - 978-0-252-06338-1
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-465-03195-5
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