Sunday, June 26, 2011 5:00pm ET.

Troublemaker: A Memoir From the Front Lines of the Sixties

Chat with Bill Zimmerman and host Richard Flacks.
 
 

Troublemaker: the political memoir as rousing adventure story—a sizzling account of a life lived in the thick of the battles that defined America’s revolutionary epoch.

April 1973: snow falls thick and fast on the Badlands of South Dakota five weeks after protesting Sioux Indians seized the historic village of Wounded Knee. With the FBI laying siege, Bill Zimmerman, flying a crippled airplane, leads a three-plane formation through gunfire. His daring dawn raid defies the government and successfully parachutes 1,500 pounds of food to the Indians, breaking the siege and assuring an Indian victory.

At the dawn of the sixties, angered by the vicious treatment of blacks in the South and the savage war in Viet Nam, Zimmerman, like so many others, struggled to find the appropriate moral response to a government acting immorally. He abandoned a successful scientific career to prevent military misuse of his research, then worked his way to the vanguard of the movements of the sixties. In this extraordinary memoir, he reveals the complex strategies that drove the antiwar movement, explains its offensive and defensive tactics, and argues convincingly that the struggles of the sixties were both moral and patriotic and may yet have important lessons for us today.

Zimmerman writes vividly of registering black voters in deepest most dangerous Mississippi; marching with Martin Luther King, Jr., in Chicago; helping to organize the 1967 March on the Pentagon; fighting the police at the 1968 Democratic convention and at Washington’s Mayday demonstrations in 1971; mobilizing the scientific community against the war; smuggling medicines to North Viet Nam; filming the bombing of civilians in Hanoi; founding an international charity, Medical Aid for Indochina, that rebuilt a large hospital bombed by Nixon; and helping to organize the grassroots lobbying that finally ended the war. Crossing paths with the famous political organizers of the era, Zimmerman captures the zeitgeist that irrevocably changed American society and politics as we knew them.

Bill Zimmerman holds a doctorate from the University of Chicago and is one of the nation’s most experienced political consultants. His firm, Zimmerman & Markman, has worked for candidates, historic ballot initiatives, and advocacy organizations like the ACLU, NRDC, and MoveOn.org. He continues to advocate for social justice, and lives in Topanga, California. (Random House)