Beacon Press ($15)
The newly-released paperback edition reviewed by Bob Sommer in the current issue of Rain Taxi
The first edition of Bill Ayers’ Fugitive Days had about as untimely a release as a book by someone who participated in planting a bomb inside the Pentagon could have: September 10, 2001. The following morning, a feature article about Ayers appeared in the New York Times under the stark headline, “No Regrets for a Love of Explosives.” Ayers would soon refute the article, but few New Yorkers spent much time with the papers that morning. Whatever benefit of the doubt readers might have given this compelling memoir vaporized in the day’s events. The Times book review of Sept. 30, 2001, typified much of the commentary that followed: “In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks that killed thousands of people in Lower Manhattan and the Pentagon, readers will find this playacting with violence very difficult to forgive.”
This is an extraordinary story told by a writer of exceptional skill, a tour through a world that few people know, rendered sensitively, candidly, and often with a self-deprecating wit that Ayers turns on himself and his group with surgical skill.