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The Opposition

The Opposition

By Todd Gitlin

On civil rights and America's 1960s New Left movement.

Set during America’s 1960s New Left movement, The Opposition tells the story of twenty-something young men and women linked by a fierce desire to change the world who become involved in the civil rights and anti-war movements, when under the pressure of Vietnam, and America, unraveling, their web of passion and pain reaches a breaking point. Four women and four men meet in a Midwestern college town in 1963. As racist violence surges in the Deep South, they are seized by the civil rights movement. They all take part in demonstrations; Melissa, who is black, leaves to help voter registration in Mississippi, and several decide to organize in a poor white community in Cleveland. One of the women, Sally, has an illegal abortion. As the Vietnam war accelerates and things go awry with community organizing, some of the group get involved in antiwar projects, and another of the women, Valerie, goes to Mexico to study art. Matt, the son of a pro-war minister, is summoned by his draft board, and has a powerful drug experience on his way into draft resistance. The group rendezvous in Chicago during the Democratic Convention of August 1968 and the police do not take kindly to them. Passions flair and arguments erupt amid street fights. One of the activists, Kurt, reconsiders confrontations and decides to work with a liberal Congressman to lobby for legislation to end the war. Ronnie, a radical filmmaker, and his lover, Marcia, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, get close to the just-founded Weathermen. The novel moves through these eight lives to a tragic conclusion.


Guernica World Editions (World Prose)


334 pages |

Regular price $25.00 CAD
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I read Todd Gitlin’s novel in a great rush of enthusiasm and awe, thoroughly caught up in the lives of his characters and his vivid portrayal of 1960s America—with all of the tumult, rage, and hope of that time. No one understands that time better than Todd Gitlin, who has written about it extensively in his previously lauded books, but now that he has turned his hand to fiction, the result is even more vivid, more thrilling, and I for one would urge every person I know to read it.

Paul Auster

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About the author

Todd Gitlin, an early leader of the American New Left, is the author of 15 previous books, including four novels. He is a professor of journalism and sociology, and chair of the Ph. D. program in Communications, at Columbia University. He lectures and publishes widely on many subjects.