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In this absorbing and candid autobiography, the author describes his journey from leftist radical to conservative pundit. More accurately, Horowitz is a classical liberal rather than a conservative and a very effective activist for truth and freedom of speech these days. The book also explores the history of leftism in America and provides interesting portraits of certain prominent intellectuals.

Part I: Black Holes (1904 - 1939) deals with the history of his communist parents and his early childhood, whilst the next: Coming Of Age (1940 - 1956) tells of his teenage years, his studies and first marriage. Part 3: New Worlds (1957 - 1967) describes his time at Berkeley, his first writings for radical magazines of the time and his sojourn in London and Sweden.

In Part 4: Revolutions (1968 - 1973), the family returns to Berkeley where the counterculture was in full swing. This is when Horowitz started working for the New Left magazine Ramparts and marked the beginning of his involvement with the Black Panthers. This was also when he met his long-time friend and collaborator Peter Collier.

His tragic involvement with the Panthers is detailed in Part 5 (1973 - 1974). This culminated in the murder of his friend Betty Van Patten, the tragedy that caused him to have second thoughts about his political convictions and associates on the Left.

The next chapter deals with the period 1975 to 1980 when he tried to discover the truth about the death of Van Patten. He ceased all political activity and slowly came to the realization that some people had an inherent will to evil. Most of his leftist friends did not care about the murder and simply ignored it although they knew who was behind it. In this period he co-authored a commercially successful book on the The Rockefellers with Peter Collier.

Part 7: Coming Home (1980 - 1992) chronicles the fruition of his second thoughts when he finally left the Left. What is of particular interest here is his description of how the moonbat leaders of the gay community in San Francisco contributed to the death and suffering of the AIDS epidemic because of their denial that a promiscuous lifestyle contributed to the spread of the disease.

It was in this period that his second collaboration with Collier, a book on the Kennedys, was published and became a huge success. Also, the seminal book on the radicalism of the 1960s, Destructive Generation, was published. In 1991 he founded the Center For The Study of Popular Culture and the journal Heterodoxy.

Radical Son is a most moving autobiography and an insightful examination of the leftist mindset of hate and nihilism, as well as a gripping historical perspective on the intellectual currents of the 20th century. The book includes 18 black and white photographs. I also recommend What's Left? by Nick Cohen, a book by a gifted British writer who describes his own disillusionment with the Liberal Left.
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on 26 August 1999
"Radical Son" is one of the most important books written in this decade. The author's parents were life-long Communists and he was a New Leftist/Socialist for the first 40 years of his life. Slowly he was forced to admit to himself the nihilism of socialism. The murder of a friend by the Blank Panthers crystallized his thinking. If only this book could be read by high school students and again when they attend college, there might be some hope of ending the untrue and dangerous myths of socialism perpetuated by left-wing politicians, the mainstream media and college elites. Horowitz states, "It was what I thought was the humanity of the Marxist idea that made me what I was then; it is the inhumanity of what I have seen to be the Marxist reality that has made me what I am now. . . . The lesson I had learned from my pain turned out to be modest and simple: the best intentions can lead to the worst deeds. I had believed in the Left because of the good it had promised; I had learned to judge it by the evil it had done." Please do yourself and this nation a favor and read this book. It is only through education that the evils of communism and socialism can be exposed for what they really are.
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on 31 August 1999
This book is proof positive that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. The reviewers who discount this work are at best individuals with growth stunted intellects who wish to remain Peter Pans and never grow up. As Mr. Horowitz points out during his talk during his wedding to Shay, the Left sets themselves up as gods and religion and they are left wanting. The other way the Left gets away with it, is that they only have to PROMISE that Utopia will come to earth. They never actually have to deliver it. Much like the serpent in the garden. The Left is full of empty promises. For myself, I see that the Left is basically a huge dysfunctional family not unlike what you see if you go to a 12-step meeting or Alanon. They are also classic enablers and will tolerate and even encourage bad behavior "for the cause". They don't want to admit that "there's an elephant in the living room". Other books that go well with "Radical Son" are "Where Liberals Go To Die: The End of Let's Pretend" by James T. Evans and "Vision of the Anointed: Self Congratulation as a Basis For Social Policy" by Thomas Sowell.
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on 11 July 1998
This book was so absorbing that I found it difficult to put down, reading several chapters before even leaving the bookstore. The amazon.com review of "Radical Son" does the author, David Horowitz, an injustice since every autobiography will potentially subject its author to accusations of self-absorbation, self-importance, or denial. However, contrary to that critical review, Horowitz is as painfully honest about himself and his own mistakes and personal shortcomings, as he is about those of his parents, friends, and former comrades in the New Left.
"Radical Son" is much more, however, than the political mea culpa of a former Berkley radical turned Reagan conservative. It is an invaluable political history of the Sixties' New Left Movement. Horowitz chronicles how his intellectual parents and their friends-- mostly immigrants or first-generation Americans --were drawn to the Communist Party in the 1920's and 1930's; how they passed their idealism and radical beliefs on to their children before becoming disillusioned themselves after Stalin's crimes were revealed in the Khruschev Report in 1956; and how those children-- including himself, Peter Collier, Todd Gitlin, Bob Scheer, Jerry Rubin and many others --established the New Left in the early 1960's, to replace the discredited "Old Left" of their parents' generation and to rehabilitate the Marxist idea.
Horowitz further points out why the revolution sought by the New Left never materialized-- the fantasy of utopian marxist-socialism could not overcome the reality of the bloody, totalitarian communist regimes. Revelations of the blood bath in Vietnam and the rest of Indochina, following the communist victories there, soon reached the West. More directly, with the end of the Vietnam War, the protests and mass demonstration on campus came to an abrupt halt. The "people" were never really with the New Left after all.
Still, as Horowitz writes, the New Left remains capable of inflicting damag! e. Within its "bases" in the academic and literary worlds, as well as in Hollywood, the New Left has become a sort of counter-establishment in America with the ability to rewrite history (such as Todd Gitlin's "The Sixties" and the writings of Noam Chomsky, not mention the films of Oliver Stone) and to indoctrinate-- or at least attempt to indoctrinate --college students with one-sided lectures, textbooks, and various forms of hypersensitive "political correctness".
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on 17 June 1998
A beautifully written and captivating autobiography which is invaluable for the dirt it dishes out on prominent 60s leftists. But in his guilt over his own mistakes and his ongoing narcissism, Horowitz forgets that the hard left was a small part of much larger movements that helped push American society and civilization toward its current unparalleled heights. While leftists managed to attain prominent roles in feminist, civil rights, and gay rights organizations, their plans to use them to promote revolution were hardly sucessful. In the end it was the leftists who ended up bitter and feeling used as their energy and organization skills were coopted by the mainstream of liberal and moderate Americans. As we sit here in an unprecedented golden age, the question is surely not what went wrong in the 60s, but how America successfully managed such important social changes while rejecting the craziness offered by Horowitz and his comrades. But nowhere in this book will you find any acknowledgement of the real progress that happened in America during this period, much less a serious analysis of the positive and negative contributions of leftists too it.
Reading this mesmerizing book, one wishes Horowitz could see a bigger picture than his guilt and absolutist tendencies allow, but the picture he does provide is an essential counterweight to the equally biased images offered elsewhere.
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on 1 January 1999
David Horowitz exposes the ongoing romance with 1960s radicalism as myth and lays bare the ugly truth about the "revolution" and many of the players in it. What makes this book especially compelling is Horowitz's indoctrination into Marxism early in life and his work with notable radicals such as writers Jean-Paul Sartre and Bertrand Russell and later Tom Hayden and Oakland Black Panther Huey Newton. This book screams out to be read by those misinformed souls who swallow whole the rantings of left-wing academics and dishonest journalists. After reading this book, modern America makes perfect sense. Horowitz puts all the pieces together. This is perhaps the most important autobiography of our time.
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on 10 June 1999
The problem with Horowitz is that he's a true believer. He was raised a true believer on the left and he became a truel believer on the right, largely because of one incident _ the murder of a friend by Black Panthers that severed the deep emotional ties he had with the left. The problem is that he should have known that some Panthers were good guys, some were opportunists and some were pure thugs. Many of us with left-wing backgrounds became disillusioned with idealogues and were able to discern on our own the excesses and sheer stupidities of our colleagues;. I became a cycnical centrist with lliberal social leanings, as did many of my friends from the 60s. My father, a Communist sympathizer (who knew Horowitz' parents) ended up the same way when he became aware in 1955 of Stalin's brutalities and when he saw people (like Horowitz' parents) shun those who strayed from the party line. What Horowitz needs is perspective. He didn't get it from his parents and he didn't have it in the 60s.
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on 13 December 2006
Not all who criticize DH are "Peter Pan Leftists." While David Horowitz has said much to the hard left that needs to be said, his vast and rote neo-con hypocrisy for me, especially as an American, is troubling. Moreover this patent hypocrisy is put forth in the same crazy making way as the hard left garbage he skewers here-so that in a very 1984 sort of way all discussion is shut down, mostly with the Orwellian smear of "anti-semitism."

There is an incredibly tiresome and self-important ego at work with DH too. I venture that he is not really a conservative but someone so all consumingly obssessed in negative with his glorious hippy sixties past.

Imagine if Reagan had sought the spotlight of self-aggrandizement, and spent decades of his life as a former democrat going over and over how the democrats had wronged him and would not see the light? Rather than just forming something truly positive and in the here and now, like Reaganism?
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on 22 June 1999
The book of what REALLY happened in the 1960s. An indispensible work, told with passion, brilliance and honesty. Bores it right up the Lefties and Stalinod liberals! A searing expose of the greatest criminal conspiracy of all time by one who was really there.
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on 11 January 1998
Kicking the sixties is like beating an enbalmed fun but foolish dog buried years ago. Horowitz changes his allegiances like so many of his fellow fair weather soldiers of the left. The problem is you can't shut these people up. What is a man to do be villified or deified? Liberal is like the F word these days.
The best way write and get published is to be a disenchanted Jewish liberal who just cant't deal with the nasty excesses and guilt of the left, or a Black intellectual seething with vitriol against the "jive time homeys of welfare land" (these diatribes reek with psychic defenses such as "identification with the aggressor")
I'm tired of disengenuous arguments particularly those who used the sixties as a timely bomb-shelter from the fierce consequences of Vietnam. I shudder at the implicit comparisons of the anal self seving tantrunms of the swinish "demonstators" in Chicago to combat in Vietnam. I blame the media and people like Horowitz for expressions such as "The War at Home" Horowitz's smug expressions and tortured intellect in 60s coffee houses do not qualify his as a martyr. Real martyrs suffer, bleed and feel the pain of others... Davy boy seems quite adept at feeling his own.
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