FUGITIVE DAYS: Memoirs of an Antiwar Activist

In Fugitive Days, Ayers tells the real story of the defining events of the radical ’60s. The book is an eyewitness account of a young pacifist who helped found one of the most radical political organizations in U.S. history, and who consequently lived for ten years as a fugitive. In a new era of antiwar activism and suppression of protest, Fugitive Days is more poignant and relevant than ever.


“[Ayers’s] memoir is a breath of fresh air in this self-absorbed age. Ayers discusses his reservations about the use of violence to achieve an end to violence (reservations he held then as well), but he is unrepentant in believing that . . . right-minded people have an obligation to resist unjust wars. . . . There are many lessons still to be learned from such narratives. Recommended.”
—David Keymer, Library Journal

“[A] gripping and provocative story . . . What is most remarkable about this dramatic and revelatory personal and social history are the always urgent questions it raises about compassion and freedom, responsibility and community, and the conundrum of how to bring about much-needed change.”
Booklist, starred review

“A challenging, moving, and troubling account . . . Ayers writes well, lyrically, passionately.”
—Andrea Behr, San Francisco Chronicle

“A memoir that is, in effect, a deeply moving elegy to all those young dreamers who tried to live decently in an indecent world. Ayers provides a tribute to those better angels of ourselves.”
—Studs Terkel, author of Working and The Good War

“With considerable wit, no small amount of remorse, and an anger that smolders still across the decades, Bill Ayers tells the story of his quintessentially American trip through the 1960s. That it is written in a consistently absorbing style with many passages of undiluted brilliance only adds to its appeal.
—Thomas Frank, author of One Market Under God and What’s the Matter with Kansas?

“A gripping account . . . Ayers describes well the deep emotions that inflamed the ’60s.”
—John Patrick Diggins, Los Angeles Times

“This is a precious book, not simply because it offers a gripping personal account of the primal American suspense story of life on the run, but, more important, because it recreates a critical point of view and way of thinking that we seem, even a few decades later, barely able to recall.”
—Scott Turow, author of Ordinary Heroes and Ultimate Punishment

“It’s been a long time since American political culture last leftward . . . Extremists of the left have all but disappeared, while extremists of the right are as common as mushrooms after rain . . . Ayers has a knack for capturing the spirit of his times . . . It’s a fascinating story.”
—Jean Dubail, Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Finally, here is an irresistibly readable book that answers the question, How did a nice suburban boy go from the ordinary pleasures of his class to the Days of Rage and beyond? Bill Ayers not only makes this exalting and painful journey comprehensible, he peoples it with sympathetic family, friends, and lovers, and moves us with his candor.”
—Rosellen Brown, author of Before and After and Half a Heart

“Terrific . . . This memoir rings of hard-learned truth and integrity and is an important contribution to literature on 1960s culture and American radicalism.”
Publishers Weekly

“What makes Fugitive Days unique is its unsparing detail and its marvelous human coherence and integrity. Bill Ayers’s America and his family background, his education, his political awakening, his anger and involvement, his anguished re-emergence from the shadows: all these are rendered in their truth without a trace of nostalgia or ‘second thinking.’ For anyone who cares about the sorry mess we are in, this book is essential, indeed necessary, reading.”
—Edward W. Said, author of Reflections on Exile and Out of Place

“This remarkable memoir gives us the visceral experience of being on the run. Ayers writes with eloquence and irony. This is one man’s amazingly honest, authentic, and gripping testament—and a helluva story it makes.”
—Phillip Lopate, author of Portrait of My Body

“A wild and painful ride in the savage years of the late sixties. A very good book about a terrifying time in America.”
—Hunter S. Thompson, author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Hell’s Angels

“For anyone who wants to think hard about the social conflagration the Vietnam War produced in the U.S., and more generally about a citizen’s obligations in troubled times, Ayers’s powerful, morally charged account of a life and a society in the political balance is provocative reading.”
—David Farber, Chicago Tribune

Links to purchase:

Beacon: http://www.beacon.org/productdetails.cfm?SKU=3277

Find it at a local independent bookstore: http://www.indiebound.org/hybrid?filter0=fugitive+days+activist

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Fugitive-Days-Memoirs-Anti-War-Activist/dp/0807032778/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1226595530&sr=8-1

Barnes & Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Fugitive-Days/William-Ayers/e/9780807032770/?itm=1

32 Responses to FUGITIVE DAYS: Memoirs of an Antiwar Activist

  1. james Taggert says:

    My father fought in Vietnam hes gone now, died of cancer like many of those guys. He did’nt really have any idea why he was there. He knew it was a horrible scene once he arrived. After my countless hours of research I have learned that that conflict was the largest squandering of lives in recent American history. Thank you for knowing and standing up, for what took many of us almost 40 years to realize.

  2. Sheldon says:

    Thanks for finally speaking out about recent and past events. People should also listen to the segments on Democray Now! (google it if you don’t know it).

    I am glad you got to speak out about the real massive violence of the Vietnam and current wars. Only one criticism is that you should have drawn the more explicit link to the fact that it was McCain who is the unrepentant terrorist who flew over 20 missions, dropping bombs on Vietnam, and threatened Iran with the same by singing songs like it was a joke.

    I also appreciated your comments on Democracy Now! about the trials of being an over-extended teacher, as I quit teaching in a neglected city school precisely for the reasons you suggested.


  3. Dan says:

    The positive reviews of your book and your appearance on GMA is more evidence of how far true education has fallen in this country. For all who bemoan the evils of the United States and the damage we did to the people of Vietnam, read the horror stories of the ravages of marxism, communism and socialism. These ideologies destroy the human spirit and create nothing but misery and despair. But we are the evil ones with the horrible system of governement… Ok, whatever. My advice: Get a real education, not an indoctrination.

  4. Allison says:

    After seeing your interviews on Democracy Now! and Good Morning America, and hearing the interview with Terry Gross on NPR, I gained great admiration for you and your wife. Your calm demeanor and well-formed responses give me hope for future public speakers (currently I have little respect for interviewees who respond poorly to sensational questions). My mother was also staunchly opposed to the Vietnam War, and though I’ve inherited her fierce feelings on the right things to do, I feel that my generation faces an insurmountable wall of not only wars, but also domestic structural violence; and I’m afraid the majority doesn’t care.

    Anyway, I should probably write about that on my own blog. Thank you for speaking out! I enjoyed seeing and hearing the interviews.

    I bought your book for my mother.

  5. judy bruton says:

    Bill Ayers is a true patriot who inspires me today just as he did 40 years ago. Instead of plopping an american flag on his lapel to broadcast phony ‘patriotism,’ he got out there and helped create a successful anti-war movement that led the country out of the horrific Vietnam War when W Bush was cheerleading at Yale instead of witnessing the futility of war …. guess that explains the Iraq Invasion

  6. NRB says:

    Fvck you, Ayers. You have no right to spread your BS on the internet. You should be rotting in prison. Worthless bastard. I hope you get AIDS.

  7. russ strand says:

    I am one of a rapidly disapearing group called WW2 Veterans,I also was in the military during the Korean War.I saw some combat in WW2.but not much in Korea.
    I don’t know what particular event shocked my consciense into being totaly opposeed to the Vietnam War,I would guess it was a cumulative series of events.
    In the mid sixties I was a traveling salesman with a large territory to cover,I remember distinctly driving in Wisconsin and picking up the U.of W,college radio station while a proffessor was discussing Vietnam with members of the student body.I was stunned and a bit angered to hear an American citizen putting down our military and my country while it was engaged in military conflict.
    But I was also something else,something I have been all my life,a bit curious!I thought”here is an intellectual and an educator,I have never subscibed to putting down intelectuals,something so common in reactionaryism!He has access to a lot of”non propaganda”information I and the uninformed public don’t have.
    So I began to aquire historical information about Vietnam,Ho Chi Min,and the former French Indo China.Let me tell you I really learned the meaning of “culture shock”.
    I have never trusted U.S.Political leaders or MIlitary leaders since.

  8. The Vietnam Anti-War Movement was successful, in part, because it took allowed for so many different approaches. The Weatherman were an important part of that movement as were the members of all the other groups. What is often not mentioned is that the Weather Underground attacked property not people. They went to extremes to avoid hurting people. It is violence against the people that is terrorism, not destruction of symbolic property.

    I think you did a tremendous job in response to the dreck during the election. Your continued commitment to social justice and change should be an inspiration to those of us who grew up in the 60’s and to our children today.

  9. cameron bishop says:

    Bill & Bernadine,

    it’s been a long time… I don’t have exactly the same memories as you do in “Fugitive Days”, but then I was one of the “crazies” and my memories would be different. I’m not as convinced that Obama is the good guy you seem to think he is. Time will tell. Guess I’m still a crazy:-)

    Funny how so many of us ended up in the helping professions after the underground. I became a teacher/social worker.

  10. Pat Finnegan says:

    I love this site because I love America , and what we all get to peruse here at this site is what makes america, america. Freedom of thought. What a concept. Thought? What a concept. True here in America, the ruling class well do all within their power to control your free thoughts, but none the less you are entitled to them. What you do and how you act upon your free thoughts may cause problems with your freedom, but you are certainly allowed to develop them. Freedom of thought, freedom of and from religion. Never before has there been such a radical political social society as what we have here in our good ole USA.
    Those of you that come to Prof. Ayers site that only know of the 60’s-70’s from what you read or hear, will get a much truer sense of those amazing years of recent American history from the comments of those of us that did live through and in those decades.
    I’m another combat veteran from the Viet-Nam War that has no problems with the goals of the weather-underground and like Prof Ayers I also wish that they had done more.
    Once the heavily troweled on bullshit of the McCarthy mentality that ruled and rules our beloved nation was cleared from the progressive mind , the war in South East Asia stood naked in it’s evilness. We, the land of the free and the home of the brave. the land with liberty and justice for all. The beacon of democracy and decency, the social model that someday all nations of our planet would emulate, was spending billions of dollars to travel halfway around the globe to bring all our most adanced technological warfare to a nation of rice farmers. We brought thousand pound bombs, napalm, mini guns to a people that live in dirt floor houses made out vegatation that they build around communal wells.
    No argument can make the Viet-Nam war palatable and that is why McCain’s campaign was fucked to begin with. For him to be a viable candidate we had to buy what he was selling which was ” Vote for me because I’m a hero for getting shotdown and surviving”. If the war that this happens in is an unjust war than all actions in that war are unjust. And that is the plain simple truth people. The Viet-Nam war as we know it is and was an unjust war and all acts that aimed to end that war can only in a sane universe be thought of as just acts.
    Were the Nuremberg trials after WWII just for laugh and giggles or did they define how we choose to live as a species. The how and whys war trials are held leave alot to be desired. Keep the Faith and keep plugging away , ya can only hope that truth truly will prevail.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: