Fugitive Days: A Memoir

Front Cover
Beacon Press, 2001 - Biography & Autobiography - 295 pages
2 Reviews
Bill Ayers was born into privilege and is today a highly respected educator and community activist. For ten years, he lived on the run as a fugitive, stealing explosives, planting bombs, hiding from the law, and practicing "tradecraft" out of a John Le Carre novel. This portrait of a young pacifist who became a founder of one of the most militant political organizations in U.S. history is drawn with amazing candor and immediacy. Ayers begins with his education as a rebel, his increasing sense of horror at the American involvement in Viet Nam, and his growing love for his comrade Diana Oughton. He takes us to the streets of Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago, inside the Days of Rage, SDS, the Black Panthers, and deep into the Weather Underground. At the center of the book is a terrible explosion-an apparent accident-in which Diana and two other comrades are killed. The organization is fragmented, and Ayers is shattered. Slowly he begins to rebuild his life, as a fugitive, with the help of Bernardine Dohrn, whose likeness hangs in every post office in America on the Ten Most Wanted list. Bill and Bernardine become Joe and Rose, working to disarm splinter groups, helping break Timothy Leary out of jail, creating elaborate false identities, and carrying out strategic, bloodless bombings, including one actually inside the Pentagon. Ayers and his comrades become America's other Viet Nam vets.This is the story of one boy's journey into life-his complicated love for his parents and the society that raised him, his coming of age into a world in flames, falling deeper and deeper into a single-minded way of thinking and the loss that all that represented. Ayers writes openly about his regrets, and what he continues to believe was right. Fugitive Days is about a young dreamer, troubled by what he saw, struggling to find a way to make the world a better place, and now grappling with his own story, crafting narrative from memory's elusiveness.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - cherybear - LibraryThing

What it was like to be inside the Vietnam War protests. A crazy life. Yet, Bill and Bernadine came out the other side, and he tells the story of their years underground with frankness, wit, and lots of questions, for the reader, and for himself. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - dblobaum - LibraryThing

At least since Truman Capote's In Cold Blood it has been acceptable to mix history and fiction. Not that the line between the two has ever been terribly bright. Numerous histories—and innumerable ... Read full review


Part II

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2001)

William Ayers is a long-time teacher and activist, award-winning education writer and reformer, and professor at the University of Illinois. He and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, live in Chicago.

Bibliographic information