Summary of Letters to a Young Activist

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Letters to a Young Activist book summary


6 Overall

4 Applicability

8 Innovation

6 Style


This is politics with attitude, presented by a former sixties activist who has plenty of sincerity and passion, though he has a somewhat convoluted writing style. Todd Gitlin - the former president of Students for a Democratic Society, the SDS - has a great deal to say, much of it worthwhile, though couched in nostalgic reminiscence of his youthful activism. Given that, former sixties protestors may find more here than current rightist young idealists. His observations on the faults of the Left and the strength of the Right are, if not original, stimulating. He does draw potentially useful lessons from the sixties, as seen through his prism of leftist activism and leadership. recommends this fast, historic and forward-looking read. In these turbulent times, Gitlin encourages participation, discourages violence and believes the individual can still make a difference. Who could quarrel with that?

In this summary, you will learn

  • the background of a range of social and political issues from the author’s perspective as a 1960s student protest leader.

About the Author

Todd Gitlin is a professor of journalism, culture and sociology at New York University and the University of California at Berkeley. He has written several books, including The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage.



Duty, Faith, Adventure
Today’s young activists, drawn by the excitement of politics, are full of passion and spice. But, as an experienced former "young activist," Todd Gitlin knows the current crop still has lessons to learn. Those who have already tried to change the world, who have ...

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