“A rare first-hand account by an active participant in the radical underground movements … distinguished by the courage and painful honesty so critical in a memoir of this kind.” – Peter Matthiessen
In her debut memoir, Coleman reveals an intimate account of her choice to join a revolutionary underground guerrilla cell in the 1970’s. This turbulent time in America has lessons for all of us in an age of domestic terrorism headlining the news today.
What begins with her youthful idealism and intent to amend the “sins” of her blueblood ancestors soon becomes a firestorm of events that includes the activities of a local police “death squad”, the vicious rape of a co-worker, an attack on a radical bookstore, Ku Klux Klan threats, friends found to be on the 10 MOST WANTED list, her choice to bear arms, donate large sums of money, and transport explosives for a cadre with increasingly questionable motives. The unrelenting series of events that unfold inextricably land her many years later as a witness in one of the longest sedition trials in US history.
Terrorist or freedom fighter? That becomes the readers question to answer just as it becomes Coleman’s question as well.
Eve Marko’s Review
Linda Coleman just published a terrific memoir about her time as a young woman taking part in armed insurrection against this government. It’s called Radical Descent. Coming from a white and privileged background, she decided to join an underground cell of American revolutionaries fighting against our own military-corporate-government establishment which they accused of perpetrating wars around the world, purveying arms, persecuting minorities, and actively promoting inequality through a corrupt capitalist system. She describes what led her to join this struggle, and what finally led her out.
What I really appreciate is her sharing the emotional turmoil she experienced, and especially the burden of guilt she carried over coming from a white and wealthy background. Day by day I hear everywhere around me the same questions: What do I do to change this world? Does anyone pay attention to nonviolent resistance? Is being an armchair middle-class liberal enough? Is meditation enough? Is anything enough?
Linda and her friend felt the urgency of this American reality and what it was fostering, and they weren’t ready to be numbed by entertainment or reassurances that it’ll all turn out okay in the end, or that we’ll be dead well before the end so what does it matter. She describes being on that edge again and again, seeing an abyss on either side of her, and wondering what’s the next step and how to take it. She’s a long-term Zen practitioner and was ordained by Peter Matthiessen years ago, but I love it that her fierceness and fighting spirit (shared by Peter, in my experience), go on and on.
Read that book!