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

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Original Language: English (US) | 224 pp. | December 2017

2 Seas Represents: French, Dutch, and Nordic Rights.

MEMOIR | LGBT

“It is a must-read for anyone ― young or old ― inclined to see the Weatherman as right on, or badass, or as pioneers of a form of political struggle useful for the United States’s future. Lerner was there. He now sees the weather very differently.”―Los Angeles Review of Books

“Imagine if your favorite uncle, a brutally honest, worldly, self-reflective gay raconteur, had been, as a twenty-year-old, a lieutenant in an underground guerrilla army dedicated to the violent overthrow of the government of the United States. Jonathan Lerner is that favorite uncle you never had, telling unbelievable true stories—no bullshit—from the ‘revolution’ fifty years ago. This is the closest you’ll ever get to being there.” —Mark Rudd, national secretary of SDS, founding member of the Weather Underground

“A powerfully written account of idealism undercut by submission to a rigid ideology… Lerner brings a unique perspective—that of a gay man—which no other book on the Weather Underground has expressed.” —Arthur Eckstein, author of Bad Moon Rising: How the Weather Underground Beat the FBI and Lost the Revolution

“In language as emotionally bruising as it is beautiful, Lerner illuminates the overlapping, interlocking histories of political revolution, anti-war activism, Black Power, Gay Liberation, Radical Feminism—and all the insanity, passion, and sheer drive of the Sixties and Seventies. …A brilliant and moving analysis of one of the most significant moments in American history.” —Michael Bronski, author of A Queer History of the United States

“In this compelling, wise, and passionate memoir, Jonathan Lerner gives us a deeply honest and self-questioning depiction of his youthful radicalism. By telling this particular story of life at the far edge of the 60s and 70s counterculture (with all its intricate complexities), he is able to be precise and unstinting about the wages of resistance and rebellion without sacrificing his continuing and moving idealism.” —Dana Spiotta, author of Innocents and Others and Eat the Document

This crisp, contemplative memoir of an American radical arrives at a moment of surging activism and rage. It is essential reading for progressives struggling with how to act and survive 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 educated, privileged young Americans to turn to violence as a means of 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.

Variously known as the Weather Underground, the Weathermen, or Weatherman, the group unleashed a series of bombings across the United States, attacking the Pentagon, the Capitol Building, and the U.S. State Department, among many other places. At its height, the organization consisted of several hundred people, all committed to violent change and toe-to-toe battles with the police.

Inventing himself first as “minister of propaganda” for a movement — and along the way participating in the Venceremos Brigade in Cuba and observing the Native American uprising at Wounded Knee — and then reinventing himself as high-rolling gay hustler, 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.