Reading: Jonathan Lerner

Jonathan Lerner

Swords in the Hands of Children: Reflections of an American Revolutionary

Monday, October 30 at 7:00pm
Swords in the Hands of Children is the crisp, contemplative memoir of a Sixties radical — and essential reading for progressives struggling with how to act in the Age of Trump. 

Against the vividly evoked chaos and conflicts of the Vietnam Era, Jonathan Lerner probes the impulses that led a small group of privileged young Americans to turn to violence for political change. Beyond that, he tells the true story of an intellectually adventurous but insecure gay man immersed in the macho, misogynistic and physically confrontational environment of the Weathermen, a group that unleashed a series of bombings across the United States. Inventing himself first as “minister of propaganda” for the movement, then reinventing himself as high-rolling gay hustler, and along the way participating in the Venceremos Brigade in Cuba and the Native American uprising at Wounded Knee, Lerner recounts a wild and utterly American journey from idealism to destruction and beyond. Other Weatherpeople have written memoirs; none has explored the painful history of the consequential group with such penetrating honesty.

Jonathan Lerner dropped out of Antioch College and became a full-time activist on the staff of Students for a Democratic Society, the principal organization of the New Left. He was a founding member of the militant Weatherman faction, which took over SDS in 1969, and editor of its newspaper Fire!. He remained a member of the Weather Underground, while it carried out a campaign of bombings, until its demise in 1976. He is the author of the novels Caught in a Still Place and Alex Underground, and a journalist focusing on architectural, urbanist and environmental issues. He now lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.
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