By Dina Hampton
Public Affairs, $25.99, 308 pages, 3,5 stars
Fifty years ago, three young people graduated from a small private school in New York City that was known for its progressive politics and pedagogy. Loosely characterized as ‘red diaper babies’ these children of parents who may have been sympathetic to the communist party or leftist politics, each came to represent a different piece of American society and culture in the latter half of the twentieth century. This is the story of Elizabeth Irwin High School graduates Angela Davis, a Marxist and academic, who was jailed for her political beliefs; Tom Hurwitz, an active member and organizer in Students for a Democratic Society (SDS); and Elliot Abrams who served as a policy advisor in the Reagan administration.
An engrossing account of three classmates with nothing more in common than a high school diploma is a reminder to those who lived through a turbulent period of U.S. history, and an introduction to those who did not, of a time – not that long ago – when students actively engaged in the political process and revolution sometimes did not seem that far away. It should be noted that minor copyediting errors scatter throughout the text disrupting an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable read.
Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen