Free Radicals: Agitators, Hippies, Urban Guerrillas, and Germany's Youth Revolt of the 1960s and 1970s

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9780914386636: Free Radicals: Agitators, Hippies, Urban Guerrillas, and Germany's Youth Revolt of the 1960s and 1970s

Silver Medal Winner, Europe: Best Regional Non-Fiction, Independent Publisher Book Awards

Winner of the 2015 London Book Festival Award in History

Free Radicals offers both a comprehensive panorama of the oppositional politics of the "Generation of 1968" in Germany and a trenchant interpretation of the ideas and politics of the movement, placing them in a larger historiographical framework. The book argues that the activists of the 1960s fundamentally misconstrued the nature of the young German republic, conflating it with earlier problematic German polities, particularly the doomed Weimar Republic, and offered a hazy world-shattering future based on artificial comparisons to past revolutionary models. This book situates the German student movement within the spectrum of major social changes that occurred in postwar West Germany, arguing that the student radicals at first were swept along by the liberalizing forces of the young democracy, but then made a decisive turn against reform and gradual political evolution in favor of an aggressive rejection of the existing order. The student radicals borrowed many of the ideas and the cultural styles for the anticipated revolution from global trends, particularly from those emanating from the United States, but since the collective trauma of National Socialism was still fresh the majority of the student radicals grew up in the direct aftermath of World War II the contours of the German student movement were formed by uniquely German dilemmas and a deep generational clash. This book tells the story of the struggles of the first free republic on German soil and the generation that came of age adamantly refusing to accept its legitimacy.

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About the Author:

Elliot Neaman is Professor of History at the University of San Francisco. He specializes in intellectual, diplomatic, political, and social history of modern Europe. He is the author of A Dubious Past: Ernst Jünger and the Politics of Literature after Nazism and co-editor of The Modernist Imagination; Intellectual History and Critical Theory.

Review:

"Neaman's book is truly a tour d'horizon through the magical years of awakening in the sixties, which started in the San Francisco Bay Area and didn't stop when it came to Germany, as well as covering the depressing slide into years of terrorism that followed."
Wolfgang Kraushaar, Hamburger Stiftung zur Förderung von Wissenschaft und Kultur

"A much-needed, careful, and well-researched history of the leftist radicalism of West Germany's 1960s and its aftereffects on the leftist terrorism of the 1970s. Free Radicals the best English-language examination of the intersection of ideas, lives, and politics in these tumultuous and very violent years in West Germany."
Jeffrey Herf, Distinguished University Professor, Department of History, University of Maryland

"Its pages steeped in vast learning, Free Radicals is both accessible and diverting, offering a wonderful reenactment of a fascinating and fateful period in recent history."
Samuel Moyn, Harvard University, Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law and Professor of History, Harvard University

"I wholeheartedly recommend the book—it captures the radical spirit of the time and is a must read for anyone that wants to get the complete picture of the Western world's most unique entertaining revolutionary movement."
Michael Werz, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress

"Free Radicals is a radical upending of what we thought we knew about Germany's most famous generation."
Zachary Shore, Associate Professor of History, Naval Postgraduate School

"Free Radicals combines vast reading in memoirs, recent German-language research, and discoveries from the archives of government surveillance agencies, East and West, to cast a new and sober light on this mythicized period of German history." --Jerry Z. Muller, Professor of History, The Catholic University of America

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Elliot Neaman
Published by Telos Press Publishing (2016)
ISBN 10: 0914386638 ISBN 13: 9780914386636
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