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Radical Son: A Generational Oddysey [Paperback]

David Horowitz
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 21 1998
This riveting national bestseller is an intimate, uncompromising account of personal and political transformation, documenting David Horowitz's journey from 1960s radical to 1990s conservative. As he explores his painful estrangement from his radical parents and former political collaborators, Horowitz forms the framework for an incisive critique of the evolution of the American Left and a scathing indictment of the legacy of the 1960s.

"Radical Son is the single most important book I've ever read about modern American history and politics". -- Mary Matalin

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Radical Son: A Generational Oddysey + The Black Book of the American Left: The Collected Conservative Writings of David Horowitz
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Raised to be a committed Marxist by communist intellectual parents, Horowitz was in on the ground floor of Berkeley activism, and through his work as an editor at Ramparts magazine, he emerged as a key player in the New Left. He went on to become an active supporter of the Black Panthers and something of an intimate of their founder, Huey P. Newton. Yet today he is an outspoken political conservative who has supported many right-wing causes (such as the contras in Nicaragua) and been critical of '60s radicalism in general. It would be easy to conclude that Horowitz went from A to Z this way because he's superficial and unstable. Instead, as this moving, intellectual autobiography shows, his second thoughts about leftism emerged gradually as he experienced various aspects of the "Movement." The catalytic episode came when he discovered that the Panthers had murdered a friend of his, but even then Horowitz was slow to convert, primarily because he was heavily enmeshed in what he now views as the quintessential leftist habit of judging politics by its intentions, not its acts. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Horowitz (The Rockefellers) has prominently charted his turn from leftism in Destructive Generation (both books co-written with Peter Collier), but here, he digs deeper to recount his intertwined personal and political odysseys. Because he has witnessed some elemental political battles, and because he tells his often painful story with candor and passion, his lengthy book remains absorbing. His teacher parents were New York City Jewish Communists full of angst and false conviction; young David emerged convinced at least that ideas were important. Married, Horowitz moved to Berkeley for graduate school, the New Left and Ramparts, the hot radical magazine. However, family man Horowitz was made uneasy by figures such as Michael Lerner and Robert Scheer, who rejected community; worse, though Horowitz found Huey Newton's courting of his advice seductive, he fell into "internal free-fall" when he realized that the Panthers were criminal thugs. His Jewish identity?at a time when blacks and the Third World were not allies?helped move Horowitz rightward, as did his disgust with dogmatic leftists. And in 1985, Horowitz and Collier publicly supported Ronald Reagan; the author considers himself a classical liberal. Particularly interesting is his score-settling with authors Todd Gitlin, Tom Hayden and Paul Berman, who, he argues, either sanitize '60s history or misrepresent his own views; now, with the help of foundations, he runs the magazine Heterodoxy and monitors what he views as liberal excess.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A genuinely profound autobiography July 11 2004
Of a rare odyssey: Someone who rethinks their political beliefs from the ground up. For Horowitz, it was seeing friends murdered by 'brothers in arms' in the political Left (ie Black Panthers), that woke him up and turned him away from radical leftism.
This is the most interesting political odyssey stories since Whittaker Chambers' "Witness", and there are echoes of that era in today's era, and in the two man's lives. Chambers and Horowitz both are now toasted on the right and vilified by the left, even though neither were/are cookie cutter conservatives. Their main threat to the left is they are on to the game of the Leftists. Hence the venom against Horowitz.
The previous review is nonsense. Horowitz calls people Communists and Socialists because that is what they called *themselves*. Including Horowitz, who was raised as a 'red diaper' baby. "Neo-McCarthyite" hmmm. Well, KGB files now reveal that many of the 'innocents' protected by the Left were in fact certainly Soviet spies: Rosenbergs, Hiss. And that 100s of Communist spies were in the US Government. McCarthy was right more than wrong!
Whatever your political leanings, this books is highly recommended. It will make you think!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I have come full circle Dec 23 2003
Reading Radical son has now completed a journey I began in 1992. After being forcibly drugged by the Psyche profession/courts during an emotional breakdown after giving birth to my first baby, I became very interested in learning how the psychiatric profession obtained so much power against individual rights in America. Reading Cleon Skousen's book, The Naked Communist helped me to connect the Communist link to this ugly reality.
I have studied communism off and on during the intervening twelve years while living in The People's Republic of Boulder Colorado as a closet Conservative. I shared my rightist views with other's when opportunity presented over the years, but mostly I stayed home and read books while nurturing my additional four children.
My husband and I have home schooled off and on during these past few years - and I would like to suggest to those who feel hopeless about the power elite's control of our universities, and media not to give up on the parents of today. We who are educated about these important political issues are raising large families of holisitcally nurtured, gently educated, and un-propaganized children. My best memories of home school are the daily lessons my husband taught our children in American History. We would say the pledge and sing The Star Spangled Banner, and then he would teach the children about our amazing Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and together we testified of our faith in and dedication to the principles of freedom.
The radical leftist's are aborting away most of their children, and in the end, it will be the our children and grandchildren who will be the leaders of the future.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating biography and cultural history Feb. 11 2007
In this absorbing and candid autobiography, the author describes his journey from leftist radical to conservative pundit. More accurately, Horowitz is a classical liberal rather than a conservative and a very effective activist for truth and freedom of speech these days. The book also explores the history of leftism in America and provides interesting portraits of certain prominent intellectuals.

Part I: Black Holes (1904 - 1939) deals with the history of his communist parents and his early childhood, whilst the next: Coming Of Age (1940 - 1956) tells of his teenage years, his studies and first marriage. Part 3: New Worlds (1957 - 1967) describes his time at Berkeley, his first writings for radical magazines of the time and his sojourn in London and Sweden.

In Part 4: Revolutions (1968 - 1973), the family returns to Berkeley where the counterculture was in full swing. This is when Horowitz started working for the New Left magazine Ramparts and marked the beginning of his involvement with the Black Panthers. This was also when he met his long-time friend and collaborator Peter Collier.

His tragic involvement with the Panthers is detailed in Part 5 (1973 - 1974). This culminated in the murder of his friend Betty Van Patten, the tragedy that caused him to have second thoughts about his political convictions and associates on the Left.

The next chapter deals with the period 1975 to 1980 when he tried to discover the truth about the death of Van Patten.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Another "red diaper babe" outed Sept. 14 2003
How a reasonably intelligent man moved from 'way over there' politically, to 'way over here' is the superstructure of David Horowitz's interesting autobiography which tracks his political and philosophical epiphany. Like Saul of Tarsus who was stricken on the Road to Damascus and changed from a prosecutor to a defender of those he attacked, Horowitz moved from the extreme left to the far -- but not quite the extreme -- right. From ultra liberal Communist to arch conservative, anti-Communist. From the shadows of lawlessness in support of radical groups such as the Black Panthers to the exposer of their crimes.
David Horowitz's parents were depression-era Communists, true believers, they, who raised their son in that milieu, a 'red diaper baby' as the term has become known. He matured as Communist radical during the wild and rambunctious 60's -- the Hippy Era -- in which he became an active participant in the anti-Vietnam war crowd, associating with criminals such as Huey Newton, Eldrige Cleaver and the arch villainess, Elaine Brown. During that era, Horowitz wrote for and, for a time, edited The Ramparts magazine -- the era's showpiece periodical which pushed the radical point of view: anti-establishment, anti-war, anti-law-and-order, anti-moderation.
But then Horowitz's private life went to hell. His wife and four children left him, there were two other failed marriages after that. His private life seemed to have no core, perhaps because he failed to see and appreciate its importance. He mourned throughout the book that he could not "connect with" his father, a remote, intellectual Marxist. There were periods of depression and analysis but through it all -- and to his credit -- Horowitz continued to write and to produce.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Truely hilarious
What is more unbelievable, that Horowitz wrote this atrocity or that so many winners right such self righteous "I told you so" reviews for this piece of crap. Read more
Published on June 19 2004 by tony
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening, revealing and utterly important.
This is one of the most important books I have ever read. Coming from a country where 'socialism' is honored and desired; this book opened my eyes to flaws of socialism and the... Read more
Published on June 18 2004 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars For those who want to know the truth.
I urge everyone, esp people my age to read this book. There are so many misconseptions about socialism - you must read this book to find the truth. Read more
Published on Jan. 27 2004 by HutSutRaw
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
This book is a good read for both educational and pure entertainment purposes. What made me really enjoy RADICAL SON was the fact that Horowitz has personal knowledge of the... Read more
Published on Nov. 15 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars Man of the Year
I have to agree with those who aren't raving about this self-absorbed man who yet again is riding the wave of controversy but this time it is vomit-worthy because he is openly... Read more
Published on Nov. 9 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Read the squirming lefties
Hi I'm Tim Kidd and I call myself a 'radical Leftist!" Hooboy run and hide from those who label themselves this way and then pretty much realize that self-righteous louts like... Read more
Published on June 20 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding
I married into America, so I have a few blanks I'm trying to fill in. Why is the Vietnam War such a volatile topic here? How can a two party system work so effectively? Read more
Published on May 20 2003 by N. Frazier
4.0 out of 5 stars Is the child the father to the man?
This book fails to deliver on its promise to explain Mr. Horowitz's intellectual journey from left to right. Read more
Published on March 15 2003 by D. Freund
1.0 out of 5 stars is anybody awake here?
don't any of you people see what a phony this guy is? i found a recent article of his online called "100,000 communists march on washington to gave aid and comfort to saddam... Read more
Published on Dec 14 2002 by dan
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