May Made Me: An Oral History of the 1968 Uprising in France

Mitchell Abidor. AK, $20 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-84935-310-6
The mass revolt of students and workers across France in the spring of 1968 took most French onlookers by surprise, arising amid an extended period of economic expansion and political quiet, as translator Abidor reminds readers in the introduction to this insightful collection. The 21 interviews that follow trace the euphoria and life-changing experiences that characterized the several months’ worth of dramatic social unrest for its participants. The revolt culminated in overwhelmingly nonviolent strikes, demonstrations, and occupations in May. Interviews with recognized leftist leaders such as Alain Krivine sit alongside those with lesser-known protesters, including then-15-year-old Daniel Pinos, youngest of the people interviewed here. Sites of unrest beyond Paris (Bordeaux and Lyon among them) find representation, reminding readers that the May uprising touched the nation as a whole. The interviewees’ accounts tend to complicate more than elucidate the general historical view of May 1968 as either a failed revolution or a delayed cultural liberalization. They also dwell helpfully on the divisions and differing aims within the tenuous alliances among students, workers, unions, and the Communist Party–dominated left. Readers, be they historians or activists, will benefit from the nuances contained in these varied and timely reflections. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/19/2018
Release date: 04/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 274 pages - 978-0-7453-3698-5
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