Political Awakenings

Conversations with History

Stories of insight and inspiration from twenty leaders and thinkers who have changed the world—including Howard Zinn, Amira Hass, and Ron Dellums

“I met Randall Keeler in 1969, and when I understood that he was on his way to prison for draft resistance, it had a shattering effect on me. So I asked myself for the first time, what could I do to help end the war if I were willing to go to prison?” —Daniel Ellsberg, from Political Awakenings

As a kid, Noam Chomsky handed out the Daily Mirror at his uncle’s newsstand on 72nd Street, inadvertently finding himself in a buzzing intellectual and political hub for European immigrants in New York. Iranian human rights Nobelist Shirin Ebadi and her husband signed their own legal contract, attempting to restore equality to their marriage after the Iranian Revolution effectively erased the legal rights of women. Elizabeth Warren set out to expose those frauds declaring bankruptcy and taking advantage of the system—only to discover, in her research, a very different story of hardworking middle-class families facing economic collapse in the absence of a social safety net. While studying at Oxford, a young Tariq Ali made a bet with a friend that he could work the Vietnam War into every single answer on his final exams.

In this rousing, thoughtful, often funny, and always inspiring volume, a diverse and impressive group of thinkers reflect on those formative experiences that shaped their own political commitments. A fascinating new window into the revealing links between the personal and the political, Political Awakenings will engage readers across generations.