Outlaws of America

Cover of Outlaws of AmericaOutlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity
by Dan Berger
AK Press, 2005
Also available in French (Editions L’Echappée, 2010) and German (Laika Verlag, 2011)

From the publisher: “The Weather Underground has long been more of a mystery than what meteorologists predict above ground, a reality that activist and scholar Dan Berger seeks to rectify in Outlaws of America. With each meticulously researched chapter Berger generously and honestly walks us through the emergence, philosophy, and the demise of the Weather Underground, a white anti-imperialist organization willing to take on white privilege through all kinds of weather, including the previously uncharted weather working underground. With each transition in the life of the organization, Weather activists reckoned with a compelling question: if you had to choose, would it be immortality without knowledge or mortality with freedom? This question was the wellspring for strategy through the late 1960s and early 1970s when revolution was a word of celebration, on the tip of activists’ consciousness across the United States and beyond. By drawing upon the voice of compassion offered by activist and political prisoner David Gilbert as the touchstone throughout the book, Berger treats us to a deep understanding of why commitments taken up by the Black Power and anti-imperialist struggle thirty years ago continue to accompany us now. This book is welcome company for all those who want their history straight up, who seek to honor the vulnerable, circuitous, imperfect and brave struggle for racial justice in US history.”

“Impressively reconstructed from ambitious oral histories and from the written record, Outlaws of America powerfully situates the white revolutionary New Left in an era of possibility and state terror, of internationalism and Black Power.  It captures the dreams and tragedies of the Weather Underground in a way that has utterly eluded the canned histories of the Sixties.”
— Becky Thompson, author of A Promise and a Way of Life: White Antiracist Activism

“Hopefully, Dan Berger represents an emerging generation of radical activist scholars in the United States who are neither blinded to the flaws of the Sixties’ movements, nor arrogantly rejectionist, but who acknowledges the critical importance of learning from those movements. In a meticulously researched study of the Weather Underground, Berger writes a gripping story, drawing important lessons for the younger generation of activists.”
— David Roediger, author of The Wages of Whiteness and Myths of History

“Dan Berger gives us a highly readable personal and global history.  Berger is a master historian and storyteller who manages to reveal and recreate what the lived experience of the sixties was like for a group of militant idealists who wanted to make a difference.”
— Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of Outlaw Woman: Memoir of the War Years

“Meticulously researched, Outlaws of America demolishes prominent myths of the Sixties, especially the notion of the Two Sixties, one Good and the other Bad. Dan Berger’s loving recounting of the movement’s later phase provides us with fresh insight into our history. Unafraid to be critical, Berger’s recounting of the Weather Underground’s evolution gives us the inside story.  We have waited a long time for a book like this. It will be essential reading for activists wishing to rekindle popular insurgencies and radical action.”
— Hernán Vera, co-author of White Racism and Liberation Sociology

“Dan Berger’s Outlaws of America is a fantastic book. The writing is heartfelt and the research is top-notch. Berger interviewed many of the original revolutionaries for the book and their participation is a huge part of the success of this text.”
— George Katsiaficas, author of The Imagination of the New Left
Bad Subjects
. Read the full review here

“The book is essential to understanding the history of the 1960s, as well as the present movements against racism and imperialist war. … Berger’s best writing occurs when he weaves the modern-day reflections of former WUO members into his narrative text. He does this so skillfully that those reminiscences never come off sounding awkward or irrelevant. … This is what makes this book different and useful to the historian, the Sixties buff, and the political activist of today. … Even more than the previous works about Weatherman/ WUO, Outlaws of America brings it home, especially to the US reader, that people do make choices (life-changing choice) based on their politics. This in itself is revelatory in a culture that thinks politics begins with the Republicans and ends with the Democrats.”
Counterpunch (February 2006). Read the full review here

“There have been academic histories, memoirs and even a documentary that found success on the arthouse circuit [about the Weather Underground]. Outlaws of America, a book by Dan Berger, is the best of the lot.”
The Indypendent (#96). Read the full review here 

Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity is a thorough-going study of the organization’s origin, purpose, and history. Berger combines previously available source material with original field research to develop his portrait of Weatherman/Weather Underground Organization. …Outlaws of America is by far the most precise and comprehensive historical account of the Weather Underground’s history.”
Journal of Social History (Spring 2007). Read the full review here 

Outlaws offers a model of self-reflection that is necessary for the advancement of theory and practice in liberation struggles. It is a good addition to any library.”
Left Turn (#23). Read the full review here

“Berger’s book deserves wide attention and should be viewed as an important scholarly revision of sixties radicalism. Berger correctly posits Outlaws of America as part and parcel of the ‘ideological battleground’ and ‘contested space’ that are the ‘sixties,’ entreating us to fight for the radical sixties.
— Socialism and Democracy (#41). Read the full review here

“Besides being politically relevant for 21st-century activists, Outlaws of America is a great book that breaks new ground academically in the study of both underground ‘60s and ‘70s movement history and post-1981 U.S. political repression and political prisoners. The book is also emotionally moving in many places. Anti-war activists, prisoner solidarity activists, or fans of the WUO who are looking for good books about the WUO to add to their ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s Movement history book shelves would be wise to include Berger’s Outlaws of America there.”
Toward Freedom (April 2006). Read the full review here

“Like A Promise and a Way of Life by Becky Thompson, Outlaws of America provides inspiring examples of white people attempting to answer the call of organizers of color on the front lines of social struggles to open up a second front in the battles against white supremacy. … Berger’s extensive study is what has been lacking from the apologist attacks and tactically ‘militant’ posturings that currently surround Weather. It sets the standard for what is becoming a widening field of organizational and personal histories of 60s organizing.”
— Turning the Tide (#19)

Outlaws of America is an engaging read that paints a full picture of the Weather Underground and the context in which it existed. Even with the odd minor misstep, Berger has given us something insightful and important that adds fresh perspective to discussions of the radical underground organization.”
Upping the Anti (#3). Read the full review here

“Berger’s thoroughly researched work is also designed to pierce a myth: the idea within mainstream as well as progressive circles that the story of the sixties can be reduced to one of good guys versus bad guys. … [Outlaws is] a book that is breathtaking in its breadth and in its attempts to tell a truthful and useful tale.”
WIN Magazine (Fall 2006). Read the full review here

Purchase the book at AK Press, ChaptersPowell’s or your local bookstore. Find it in more bookstores and libraries at Goodreads or Google Books.

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