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For the Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman

For the Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman
Author: Jonah Raskin
ISBN 13: 9780520213791
ISBN 10: 520213793
Edition: Reprint
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: 1998-05-28
Format: Paperback
Pages: 315
List Price: $28.95

"Raskin's biography of Abbie Hoffman pleases precisely because it does not evade the ambiguities of that wild time. For a cynical age, Raskin evokes some of its innocent pleasures: great rock-and-roll, movements against injustices, exuberant sex."—Jonathan Rieder, New York Times Book Review

"As much a corrective to a New Left history of the time as a biography of Abbie Hoffman, the wildest of the wildmen...Raskin's book is arranged like a series of filmed calender pages; behind the pages stand descriptions as vivid as movies of the formative influences moving with lightning speed across those few amazing years while Abbie, and the rhetoric inside him, grew apace."—Vivian Gornick, The Nation

"Hoffman remains one of the most vivid figures in an era that specialized in them...It would be very hard to read his life's story and not be affected by it."—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post

"The book takes [Hoffman], his w ritings, and his politics seriously...Well-researched, well-reported, well-illustrated, and scrupulously documented."—Bruce McCabe, Boston Globe

"Not only a biography of an individual...but a fully rounded portrait of that era...Hoffman remains an utterly fascinating American icon, one of the most important performance-art patriots of our time."—Bernard Weiner, San Francisco Chronicle

Publishers Weekly

A self-proclaimed "cultural revolutionary," iconoclast Abbie Hoffman (1936-1989) used speeches, performance art, guerrilla theater, books (Revolution for the Hell of It, Steal This Book, Woodstock Nation) and witty media manipulation to stir the countercultural soup of the 1960s. This vibrant biography captures his anarchic antics as it chronicles the turbulence of that decade. Communications professor Raskin (My Search for B. Traven), who knew Hoffman for 20 years, sees his life as "a fabulous story that blurs the line between fact and fiction, reality and fantasy, autobiography and mythology." He maps Hoffman's journey from a Worcester, Mass., childhood to Brandeis, Berkeley and New York, detailing his civil rights/antiwar activities, the 1968 confrontations between Yippies and the Chicago police at the Democratic Convention, Woodstock (which Hoffman called "the first attempt to land a man on the earth") and the chaotic Chicago Conspiracy Trial. In love with his own media reflection, Hoffman entered the 1970s with "godlike invincibility." Not long after his 1973 bust for cocaine smuggling, he became an underground fugitive (as "Barry Freed"), resurfacing in the 1980s on college campuses before his final descent into manic-depressive anguish and suicide. Raskin interviewed more than 200 friends and family members, jigsawing together material from court records, FBI files and yellowing radical newspapers to present this portrait of a prankster who remains the "quintessential spirit of the era." Photos. (Jan.)