By Robert Pardun, associate producer of Rebels with a Cause.
|Prairie Radical: A Journey Through the Sixties is a memoir by Robert Pardun, whose life was radically changed in 1964 when he joined the civil rights movement and spoke out against the war in Vietnam. It's a grass-roots inside history of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the largest student organization of the 1960s. Robert was a founder of the University of Texas SDS chapter who was later elected to be a national officer and spent 1967-68 in the SDS national office, at the height of the antiwar movement. It's also a history of the vibrant and innovative Austin, Texas, SDS chapter, one of the Prairie Power strongholds where the cultural rebellion and the political movement overlapped. The story of that tumultuous period is set within the context of what was happening in Vietnam, and interwoven with what we now know was happening inside the government and the FBI. From 1971-76 Robert lived on a commune in rural Arkansas trying to put the values of the sixties into practice. The book is illustrated with photos, posters, and FBI documents.|
Prairie Radical: A Journey Through the Sixties by Robert Pardun. 376 pages, illustrated. $15 ISBN: 0-918828-20-1.
REVIEWSFabulous book! Prairie Radical is fun to read, accurate, and thoughtful.... His passion encompassed a range of issues during pivotal times. Better than any author Iíve read, Pardun develops and documents the crackling interaction between SDSís irrepressible enthusiasm for justice, police and FBI secret dirty tricks (COINTELPRO), the growing battles over organizational structure and attempts by other groups to take over SDS. The book includes many photos of Texas activists at work and reproductions of SDS leaflets and FBI documents which give added dimension to Pardunís fascinating tale. One of the best books Iíve read about white radicals in the 60ís. A must-read for anyone interested in social change.
I havenít been so engaged in reading anything since reading C. Wright Mills: Letters and Autobiographic Writings about eight months ago. Congratulations on writing a fine, fine book....I liked the very skillful way in which you interrelated what was happening personally, in SDS, in the war, and with the FBI snoops. I have not seen that done before for that period, and it's so very important.
Jim Russell, professor, Eastern Connecticut State College
[E]very once in a while you encounter a retired New Left politico who approaches the decade with more thoughtfulness than braggadocio, who earnestly tries to communicate not only the frothy exuberance and pitched moral drama of the 1960s, but also the frustrations, difficulties and disappointments of antiwar activism....
I hope people read it.
John McMillian, New York Press
[I]t dissolved the division you so often see between the new left of the early 1960s and the counterculture and back to the land movements of the late 1960s. Itís so rare to see ANY discussion of the latter, and rarer still to see them connected to any earlier movement.
Francesca Polletta, professor, Columbia University