Subversives by Seth Rosenfeld
The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power

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...“Subversives,” the journalist Seth Rosenfeld’s electrifying examination of a newly declassified treasure trove of documents...
-NY Times

Synopsis

Subversives traces the FBI's secret involvement with three iconic figures 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 these converging narratives, the award-winning investigative reporter Seth Rosenfeld tells a dramatic and disturbing story of FBI surveillance, illegal break-ins, infiltration, planted news stories, poison-pen letters, and secret detention lists. He reveals how the FBI's covert operations—led by Reagan's friend J. Edgar Hoover—helped ignite an era of protest, undermine the Democrats, and benefit Reagan personally and politically. At the same time, he vividly evokes the life of Berkeley in the early sixties—and shows how the university community, a site of the forward-looking idealism of the period, became a battleground in an epic struggle between the government and free citizens.
The FBI spent more than $1 million trying to block the release of the secret files on which Subversives is based, but Rosenfeld compelled the bureau to release more than 250,000 pages, providing an extraordinary view of what the government was up to during a turning point in our nation's history.
Part history, part biography, and part police procedural, Subversives reads like a true-crime mystery as it provides a fresh look at the legacy of the sixties, sheds new light on one of America's most popular presidents, and tells a cautionary tale about the dangers of secrecy and unchecked power.

 

About Seth Rosenfeld

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Seth Rosenfeld was for many years an investigative reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, where his article about the free speech movement won seven national awards. He lives in San Francisco.
 
Published August 21, 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 753 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Subversives
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Matt Taibbi on Oct 05 2012

...“Subversives,” the journalist Seth Rosenfeld’s electrifying examination of a newly declassified treasure trove of documents...

Read Full Review of Subversives: The FBI's War on... | See more reviews from NY Times

Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Rhetta Akamatsu on Jan 05 2014

Any American citizen who really wants to know about American political history and to understand how dangerous unchecked political power can be will benefit from reading this book.

Read Full Review of Subversives: The FBI's War on... | See more reviews from Blog Critics

WSJ online

Below average
Reviewed by Sol Stern on Aug 17 2012

Mr. Rosenfeld has produced a prodigious work of research, but ultimately "Subversives" falls short of telling the complete story of Berkeley in the '60s.

Read Full Review of Subversives: The FBI's War on... | See more reviews from WSJ online

Reader Rating for Subversives
88%

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