Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey

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One of the most compelling and important political memoirs in recent American history— republished after more than twenty years with a new introduction by the author.

In a narrative that possesses both remarkable political importance and extraordinary literary power, David Horowitz tells the story of his startling political odyssey from sixties radical to nineties conservative. A political document of our times, Radical Son traces three generations of one American family’s infatuation with the radical left from the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 to the collapse of the Marxist empire six decades later. David Horowitz was one of the founders of the New Left and an editor of Ramparts—the magazine that set the intellectual and revolutionary tone for the movement. From his vantage point at the center of the action, he populates Radical Son with vivid portraits of people who made the radical decade, while unmaking America at the same time. We are introduced to an aged Bertrand Russell, the world-famous philosopher and godson of John Stuart Mill, who in his nineties became America’s scourge, organizing a War Crimes Tribunal over the war in Vietnam. There is Tom Hayden, the radical everyman who promoted guerrilla warfare in America’s cities in the sixties, married film legend Jane Fonda, and became a Democratic state senator when his revolutions failed. We meet Huey Newton, a street hustler and murderer who founded a black militia that became the Sixties’ most resonant symbol of black power and black militance. Horowitz’s encounter with Newton and his Black Panthers, the most celebrated radical group of the Sixties, becomes the focal point of the story when a brutal murder committed by the Panthers changes his life forever, prompting the profound “second thoughts” that eventually led him to become an intellectual leader of conservatism and its most prominent activist in Hollywood.