Years of Hope, Days of Rage
by Todd Gitlin (Bantam Books: $12.95) Todd Gitlin’s immersion into the radical student politics of the 1960s began inconspicuously, as a member of a peace group by the name of Tocsin during his undergraduate days at Harvard. By 1963, however, Gitlin’s involvement had changed. He had not only become associated with SDS (Students for a Democratic Society): He was unwittingly elected its president.
“The Sixties” is, in Gitlin’s words, “part historical reconstruction, part analysis, part memoir”: a verbal kaleidoscope of events, moods, reflections of the times, from the SDS Port Huron convention, “when the radical veteran Michael Harrington (age 34) attacked the draft manifesto by Tom Hayden (age 22), with fateful consequences,” through Chicago in 1968, People’s Park in 1969; the Weatherman townhouse explosion and Kent State killings in 1970.
“Gitlin is a wonderful writer,” wrote Times reviewer Sam Hurst. “For better or worse, (he) was giving me the ‘60s just as I had experienced them myself, not in neat categories, but as a storm . . . (with) rich, funny, tragic details.”
TALKED TO DEATH
The Murder of Alan Berg and the Rise of the Neo-Nazis
by Stephen Singular (Berkley Books: $4.50) On June 18, 1984, Denver radio personality Alan Berg, after having dinner with his ex-wife, was murdered outside his townhouse by assailants armed with machine guns. A year and a half later, a jury would convict 10 members of a neo-Nazi cadre called The Order for the crime.
Berg was one of the most famous men in Denver, a confrontational, often abusive shock-radio exponent (he was once voted “most admired” and “most disliked” by the same public survey). As such, he was a magnet for kooks of all political stripes.
“Talked to Death” is the story of the FBI hunt for Berg’s murderers and an exploration into the origins and sociopathologies of the right-wing hate groups thriving within the fringe communities of Denver.
by Lawrence Osborne (King Penguin: $7.95) In a hospital near Rouen during World War II, Jamie Lovecraft meets and grows obsessed with a young Polish patient, Ania Januszewska. His passion continues after the war, through Paris, Italy and finally Poland, as Jamie pursues and attempts to care for Ania.
Ania’s “illness,” as accepted by Jamie on the diagnosis of the Swiss Dr. Kessler (whose own obsession with his patient secretly takes an active erotic component), lies nascent until the novel’s concluding chapters. Pages from Ania’s journal reveal the devastating memories that plague and destroy her.
Writing in these pages, Merle Rubin called this first novel “a hypnotic, beautifully written, painterly book.”
HOUSE OF DREAMS
The Collapse of an
by Marie Brenner (Avon Books: $4.95) The Binghams of Kentucky were one of America’s foremost media dynasties, publishers of the Louisville Times and Courier-Journal, whose influence extended outside Louisville to Washington and beyond. (Barry Bingham Sr. was an adviser to Roosevelt, an intimate of Adlai Stevenson and J.F.K.) Marie Brenner traces the rise and fall of this proud family with compassion and in extraordinary detail (everyone concerned seems to have spoken with her, remarkable in a family so riven by feuds and rivalries).
“House of Dreams” is a story both tragic and sordid, beginning with Judge Robert Bingham’s acquisition of the newspapers in the early 1900s, his passing on of the mantle to his son, Barry Sr., who presided over the dynasty’s golden age, and its ultimate dissolution in 1986 because of sibling rivalries, jealousies and strife. The Times and Courier-Journal were purchased by the Gannett chain, which consolidated the two papers into one.
“The real-life tragedy of Barry and Mary Bingham is deeply moving,” Digby Diehl wrote in these pages. “Having struggled to lead exemplary public lives . . . they find themselves alone, removed from the newspapers they worked to build . . . and sadly, ironically, victimized by media exploitation of their downfall.”
UNDER THE EYE
OF THE CLOCK
The Life Story of
by Christopher Nolan (Delta: $7.95)
Christopher Nolan is the brilliant young Irish writer who, though born with cerebral palsy (he remains paralyzed) has transcended his body’s crippled limitations through his writing. Winner of England’s Whitbread Book of the Year Award, “Under the Eye of the Clock” is Nolan’s autobiography, an extraordinary work of literature and an international best seller.
It is a portrait of a contemporary Irish boyhood (of a boy disabled and locked in a wheelchair; of life at home and at school), told without sentimentality.
But what is most singular about Nolan’s work is not his subject, but his prose. The words are like no one else’s--the associations of images, metaphors, rhythms and vibrancy of his sentences are those of a born writer.
Design and Other Diversions in a Fractured Metropolis
by Sam Hall Kaplan (Cityscape Press: $9.95)
Ranging over such subjects as landmark preservation, growth politics, Skid Row and Westside traffic, the articles and commentaries included in this collection were culled from design critic Sam Hall Kaplan’s columns for the Los Angeles Times during the last 10 years.