Radical: A Portrait of Saul Alinsky

Nicholas Von Hoffman, Author . Nation $26.95 (237p) ISBN 978-1-56858-439-3

Saul Alinsky, the fiery Chicago activist whose 1971 Rules for Radicals is regarded as the organizer's bible, has already been memorialized in a biography, a documentary, and a play, which is why von Hoffman (Citizen Cohn ), who spent a decade working with Alinsky as an organizer, wisely offers “an homage,” as opposed to a “biography or an exegesis on [Alinsky's] thinking.” What follows is a scattering of anecdotes and stray talking points—some of them insightful, like his observation that Alinsky “won his reputation for cynicism by insisting that most of us are moved to action by self-interest first, moral principles second, if at all,” many of them hazily remembered and poorly structured. Von Hoffman writes in a loose style that has the beat and rhythm of Chicago street talk, but as the sparsely punctuated sentences twist and turn, confusion takes over and the folksy charm wears thin. Such missteps are easy enough to overlook, but they add up, and after a while readers might wish the author had taken a more conservative approach to grammar, if not to politics. (July)

Reviewed on: 04/19/2010
Release date: 06/01/2010
Paperback - 237 pages - 978-1-56858-677-9
Paperback - 308 pages - 978-1-4587-3232-3
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