cover image Left Out: A Political Journey

Left Out: A Political Journey

Martin Duberman. Basic Books, $32 (496pp) ISBN 978-0-465-01744-7

An award-winning historian who has written extensively on the African-American civil rights struggle, feminism, American imperialism and gay and lesbian liberation, Duberman is also a playwright (In White America) and distinguished professor of history at Lehman College and the Graduate School of the City University of New York. This collection of 31 essays, book reviews and commentaries (many of which appear here in revised versions) chart nearly four decades of political conflict in the United States, in what amounts to an extended meditation on how ""exclusion"" has functioned as a pivotal force in U.S. history. A self-proclaimed radical who considers himself ""a confirmed if qualified patriot... dismayed at our shortcomings... but a tempered optimist about our potential,"" Duberman sensitively portrays how the struggle for individual and collective freedom coexists with severe state and social oppression. In a 1964 essay, ""The Northern Response to Slavery,"" he discusses why many antislavery Northerners refused to become abolitionists. In ""The (Contested) New History of Gays and Lesbians,"" a 1998 piece in which he examines the philosophical and historical ramifications of labeling historical figures ""gay,"" Duberman combines traditional academic research with common sense and finely tuned moral persuasion. From the student rebellions of the 1960s to the Vietnam War to the racism of the gay movement, he elucidates both the contradictions and shortcomings, as well as the enormous successes, of American radicalism and political struggles for freedom. (Nov.)