- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 882 KB
- Print Length: 275 pages
- Publisher: Seven Stories Press; Seven Stories Press 1st Ed edition (4 Jan. 2011)
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00541YWJU
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #356,737 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Everybody Talks About the Weather . . . We Don't: The Writings of Ulrike Meinhof Kindle Edition
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I found the writing compelling and intriguing too!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Karin Bauer, the editor, has constructed an extremely informative work; part of it is composed of an extensive biographic sketch of Meinhof, firmly placing her writings in context. The bulk of the book are translations of 25 or so of her most famous editorial columns from the magazine konkret; editorials written throughout the 60s, prior to her decision to become a terrorist. The book also features an introduction by Nobel-winner Elfriede Jelinek, as well as an afterword by Meinhof's daughter.
It's quite impossible to separate Meinhof the columnist from Meinhof the terrorist; though it is important to make the effort. These columns were written by a politically aware intellectual, mother, and wife, who travelled freely in bourgeois society. They were not written by the most wanted women in Germany, who's face was featured on every lampost and bakery window. Clues to Meinhof's ultimate decision to go underground are everywhere; but these essays were not a progression of arguments towards fighting a global armed revolution. They were penetrating and insightful critiques of a German society that had failed to address it's own latent fascism in the era of the "Economic Miracle."
"Everybody Talks about the Weather" also makes clear something that is often lost when discussing Meinhof: she was an effective, compelling writer. Her writings are infused with a volatile mix of anger and Revolutionary optimism. There is also an ever-present undercurrent of an almost quaint smugness born of an absolute conviction that her worldview was the correct one. Meinhof's observations are typically penetrating and exact. More often than not she provides the instant analysis of events that will eventually become the conventional analysis in years to come. For example, in her essay about the arrests of members of Kommune I in their supposed plan to "bomb" visiting American Vice President Hubert Humphrey with pudding, Meinhof clearly recognized the media opportunties generated by their public demonstrations and the future danger to civil liberties of the coming Emergency Laws. All this at a time when most leftists viewed Kommune I's efforts as a fun "happening" and most on the right viewed it as simply out-of-control youth. Meinhof alone seemed to understand their significance.
"Everybody Talks about the Weather" offers much insight for people interested in one of western society's most important public intellectuals of the last 50 years.
The lengthy introduction is indispensable, and sets nicely the stage for the works contained in the book. It is well-balanced, doesn't take sides, and merely provides the reader with a quality background by which to read the next 100 pages of essays from the sixties.
I lived in Germany while the RAF was active and Ulrike was in prison, was in Stockholm when the RAF blew up the German Embassy, and have read widely of that time and place. This is one of the best, and most balanced, accounts of that troubled time. It is a great read - I just wish it were on Kindle as well!
Meinhof continued to write after her imprisonment in 1972 for participation in Germany's Red Army Faction, popularly spun (particularly in the American media) as the Baader-Meinhof Gang, but the columns included here stop in 1968. Meinhof had a difficult time in prison, not the least because of health problems that included prior brain surgery, and Bauer indicates that her prison columns tended to be disjointed and poorly done.
However, the importance of Meinhof's writing is not to learn what she thought of prison life or of the developments on the outside while she was locked away. Ulrike Meinhof expressed the frustration of a generation whose critical political and social issues were not of their making. Her writing illustrates how this frustration, and the politicians who refused to address the issues, shaped the transition from protester to terrorist. These could as easily be today's headlines as the last century's.
She calls out the sexism that was as present in the radical movement as everywhere else. Ironically, this even colors our perceptions of Meinhof, who is often criticized for choosing a life of political activity over staying home and raising her children. Ask yourself whether you consider a man a failure if he devotes his life to a political cause, leaving his children to be raised by their mother in his absence. Martin Luther King? Nelson Mandela?
Almost 40 years after Ulrike Meinhof's death, we are still struggling to understand and deal with the circumstances that move people to terrorism. We work to increase voter turnout among young people who shrug off a government that doesn't reflect their issues. Women still try to strike the right balance between raising children and working outside the home and to achieve fair compensation for either choice. Studies today indicate that men do, at best, about 40% of the work of running a home, and incredibly, nearly all of these studies suggest that this disparity is a women's problem, with the best "solution" being for women to adjust their expectations.
The issues explored in "Everybody Talks About the Weather...We Don't" continue to be as relevant and important today as they were more than half a century ago when Ulrike Meinhof was exploring them. Time spent reading this book is time very well invested.
Ulrike Meinhof has long stood as an enigma to many in the West who can't wrap their heads around why a successful, middle-class, journalist would help to launch a group of Marxist guerrillas. This work should clear up much of the speculation that currently circulates. Meinhof's hostility to bourgeois values, the Vietnam war, and Germany's failure to come to terms with the legacy of National Socialism is clear throughout the entirety of her pre-RAF journalism. Furthermore, her unapologetic support for the student movement shows early signs of her willingness to support direct action.
Despite being several decades old, many of her critiques of militarism and capitalism are every bit as poignant. Her writing is excellent and the introduction creates a nice backdrop for the proceeding articles. My opinions on the critical conclusion (written by her daughter) are mixed. I don't mind a critique, but the sophomoric and bitter tone of the article rob something from the content. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in this era of German history or the foundations of the late 60's urban guerrilla movement.
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