The Way the Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground

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Earlier this year, I read an anthology published by Ramparts Press back in the early 1970s with a collection of writings by and about the Weatherman faction of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Due to the age of the book, it naturally focused more on Weatherman as opposed to the Weather Underground, as many of the actions undertaken by the Weather Underground took place after the publication of the Weatherman anthology.

The Way the Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground is the only book I have found that attempts to create a history of the Weather Underground and the Weatherman, and unfortunately, it does not accomplish the task as well I would have hoped. There are certainly problems with the tactics of the Weatherman/Weather Underground as well as with their theoretical writings, but I still feel that a good history of the movement is necessary if “the left” in the United States wants to learn from the errors of the Weather People. The main problem with this book is that it lacks depth, especially in terms of its look at the theory that informed the actions of the Weather People. Jacobs fails to make a detailed analysis of Weatherman theory compared to other groups at the time, as the analysis presented in the book lacks depth. Moreover, the book relies primarily on secondary sources (although he did interview some former members of Weatherman), many of which I was already familiar with due to my reading of Weatherman.

Despite its flaws, The Way the Wind Blew is an important book for the time being because it is the only book that documents the history of Weatherman/Weather Underground. However, I highly suggest that anyone interested in the group read both The Way the Wind Blew and Weatherman, as the two volumes together will allow one to judge the historical and theoretical significance of the group.

Ron Jacobs, The Way the Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground, (Verso, 1997).

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Author: mediamouse

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