Book Review: “Love and Struggle: My Life In SDS, The Weather Underground And Beyond” by David Gilbert
I am one of the two hundred or so of today’s activists who started writing David Gilbert after seeing The Weather Underground. I actually saw it a number of times before I wrote, and even that was actually after I found out his memoirs were going to be published. I think the strength of Love and Struggle compared to the memoirs of other ex-Weather People such as Fugitive Days by Bill Ayers and Underground: My Life with SDS and the Weathermen by Mark Rudd is that it is fully geared towards learning from past mistakes, action and in-action.
Opening with a dedication “To today’s activists and organizers,” there are bell hooks and Amilcar Cabral quotes before the main text that help create an intellectual framework that continues on for the rest of the book. Gilbert consistently quotes and references other activists and revolutionaries giving plenty of material for further research for those interested.
After an appreciation written by Boots Riley from The Coup, Gilbert’s Introduction is a brief explanation for writing his memoirs that is followed by his recounting of a brutal beating by police after he was arrested after the Brink’s Incident. This is the first of many stories Gilbert writes as if they are happening in the present, to be followed up in this case with a description of his childhood in upper-middle class Brookline, MA and his deep belief in the purported beliefs of the United States; “liberty and justice for all,” etc.
Like many True Believers, Gilbert’s disillusion led him to try to right some of the many wrongs in our society, and his memoirs take you down his path from Liberalism and Pascifism to becoming a Revolutionary. Every step of the way Gilbert offers a constant analysis of what he was thinking and feeling, what could have been done differently, what was done wrong. I think the real power that comes from this is not just reading what he thinks he and his comrades had done wrong, but also the system of thought for analysing mistakes and inaction. It shouldn’t take death and heavy prison sentences for us to reflect on our failures as throughly as Gilbert does, especially white people who consider themselves to be allies of people of color which was a large part of Weather Thought.
For anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, you can watch The Weather Underground for free here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6kPGh0w_-c&feature=related
There’s also an excellent Round Table discussion on Love and Struggle posted here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTp9733ejb0&feature=player_embedded
A few other books written by people who went underground that I would recommend areAngela Davis–An Autobiography by Angela Y. Davis, Outlaw Woman: A Memoir of the War Years 1960-1975 by Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz and Arm the Spirit: A Story from Underground and Back by Diana Block.
If you have the interest, please consider writing Gilbert:
Auburn Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 618
Auburn, NY 13024
It has been my experience that it usually takes him two or three months to respond, but all of his letters have been very thoughtful and inspiring, as much of my correspondence with political prisoners and prisoners of war has been.
- Originally posted at APOC Love