Fugitive Days: Memoirs of an Anti-War Activist, by Bill Ayers, has been on my BN.com wish list for something like two years. It hasn’t shown up in my Used Book Store, so I decided it was a good pick for the new Kindle (more on that later).
Ayers, a leader of the Weather Underground, wrote this book before 9/11. It was published about five minutes before 9/11. Ayers talks about that in the new Afterward, published in 2008 – right around the time the President Elect was hammered in the press for even knowing him. You know I enjoy that kind of historical perspective.
I was interested in hearing about how the Peace Movement splintered and people justified bombing things. I was interested in reading about how one lived going “underground” (because Running on Empty is my only basis for understanding) and the process of coming back to the “real world”. That isn’t quite the tale Ayers was telling.
In the mid-1960’s Ayers participated in some really great community action projects. He was literally building alternative schools for low-income neighborhoods that were not properly supported by the state. I was cheering for him. And then.
The pontificating about the Movement. I am so bored with it. At least Ayers admits to the arrogance of his crowd.
I am still vague on how anyone came to the conclusion that building bombs was a good idea. Ayers makes a point to say that except for the accident that killed three of his own group, no people were injured in any of the Weather bombings. They were only “symbolic”. I might see that about the police statue in Chicago. But not the ladies room in the Pentagon. And by the time Ayers reached this point in the story, he seemed to be rushing it so I never bought in to the concept.
He talked a bit about living underground. Safe houses and changing identities. He had two children before “surfacing” in the early 1980’s. And then the book ended.
Ayers told a good story here. There were, however, plenty of places where I wished he would expand on the details and several parts where I wanted him to shut up, already. I think I might be one of the people Ayers can’t stand – that are inclined to appreciate his principles but don’t approve the methods.