Books for changing the world
The Student Revolt

"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part! You can't even passively take part! And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels ... upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop!"

These fiery words of protest, spoken by Mario Savio during the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, became a call to action that helped galvanize an entire generation of radicals during the 1960s. Led by student politicized through the fight for Civil Rights, the movement would reshape the American left and influence a generation of protesters across the globe.

In this rousing and insightful participant's account, Hal Draper recounts the now iconic events of the FSM. From the impromptu speak out atop a police car after the administration decided to clamp down on students "distributing communist literature," to the inspiring Student Strike that shut down the entire campus, Draper's narrative captures the energy and dynamism of each twist and turn in the struggle, and offers invaluable analysis along the way.

Brimming with lessons still relevant for today's activists, Berkeley: The Student Revolt is a classic of on-the-ground historical reportage.

  • "This is a gripping political history of the Berkeley student movement of the fall of 1964—a movement ahead of its time, which reverberates to this day. Hal Draper was both a participant and an influential political mentor to many students in the Free Speech Movement, and in this classic work, he offers unique insights as a lifelong advocate for a thoroughly revolutionary and democratic socialism from below." —Samuel Farber, Free Speech Movement activist and author of Cuba Since the Revolution of 1959

    "We live in an era in which it is becoming more and more difficult to learn from the lessons of history, especially from a history filled with the spirit of civic engagement, revolt, and a seething desire to struggle over institutions such as higher education, which are crucial to a democracy. Berkeley: The Student Revolt speaks to a moment in history alive with the spirit of student revolt, outrage over the corporatization and militarization of the university, and deeply aware of the connection between the crisis of the university and its relationship to the crisis of society. This book is both inspiring and informative, moving in its depiction of civil rights, the struggle for academic freedom, the necessity of free speech as a mode of dissent, the refusal to accept the university as a "knowledge industry," and the need to give voice to the students themselves. Berkeley: The Student Revolt speaks [in] a language of not only critique, the visceral language of protest, but also to a merging of struggle and hope that can serve as invaluable resource for future generations." —Henry Giroux, author of Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education

    “Hal Draper’s book remains the most vivid narrative and incisive analysis of the Free Speech Movement that I know. A profoundly learned Marxist scholar and veteran of the revolutionary socialist movement, he was also a deeply involved participant in the FSM itself. Indeed, Draper’s influence led UC President Clark Kerr to call him, hyperbolically, “the chief guru of the FSM.” Berkeley: The Student Revolt recommends itself to all those interested in the history of protest and the left in this country, but especially, I think, to the young radicals and socialists who are today immersed in the great multiracial movement against police violence and for fundamental social change.” —Thomas Harrison, New Politics

Other books by Hal Draper