Fifty years ago today (October 1), students at the University of California at Berkeley surrounded a campus police car on the school’s main plaza and held it captive for 33 hours. This non-violent protest in the fall of 1964 launched the Free Speech Movement, the first major campus protest by white students of the sixties.
Seth Rosenfeld captures the evolution of this movement and the FBI’s secret efforts to stifle student power in his New York Times bestselling book SUBVERSIVES: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals and Reagan’s Rise to Power.
At the heart of the movement were three iconic figures who clashed at Berkeley during the 1960s: the ambitious neophyte politician Ronald Reagan, the fierce but fragile radical Mario Savio, and the liberal university president Clark Kerr. Through their converging narratives, Rosenfeld tells a dramatic and disturbing story of FBI surveillance, illegal break-ins, infiltration, planted news stories, poison-pen letters, and secret detention lists, creating a cautionary tale about the dangers of excessive secrecy and unchecked power that resonates powerfully today.
Praise for SUBVERSIVES:
**Winner of the American Book Award, the PEN Center USA Book Award, the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sunshine Award & the Ridenhour Book Prize**
“An electrifying examination of a newly declassified treasure trove of documents detailing our government’s campaign of surveillance of the Berkeley campus during the ’60s.” — Matt Taibbi, The New York Times Book Review
“Crucial history. It’s also a warning.” — Christian Science Monitor
“A well-written, dramatic narrative on Berkeley in the 1960s containing many scoops—not just about Hoover and the student radicals but also about the University of California administration and, most surprisingly, about a future president of the United States, Ronald Reagan.” — The Wall Street Journal