Radical Son

Radical Son
A Journey Through Our Times
David Horowitz
The Free Pess, $24.50, 468 pp.

When David Horowitz was a child, he and other children of Communist party members went to Camp Wo-Chi-Ca, short for "Workers’ Children’s Camp," where they held ritual bonfires to burn comic books considered "imperialistic" and "anti-Communist" by the camp’s directors. Today he is president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture in Los Angeles, where he searches out and denounces what he sees as the depredations of lefty and corrupt popular culture-Mickey Mouse and Madonna, among others.

This is an American journey of sorts-traveling the short road from authoritarian left to demagogic right. But does the journey, excruciatingly detailed in Radical Son, have anything to tell the rest of us? The answer is yes, in part because the story of a red-diaper American childhood has seldom been told, and perhaps never told so well. All the ordinary fears and confusions of growing up were magnified for this slightly nerdy boy-already set apart by his Jewishness from ethnic schoolmates-who also knows his parents are engaged in secret, seriously revolutionary political activities. His parents weren’t kidding around. They really did think the Communist overthrow of the American government was coming, and that they would be well rewarded for their hard work and the severe personal sacrifices they had endured in bringing it about.

Horowitz began what he calls his odyssey in a working-class neighborhood of Queens...

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About the Author

Julia Vitullo-Martin edited Breaking Away: The Future of Cities (Twentieth Century Fund Press). She was a Vista Volunteer, a civil rights worker, and an antiwar protester during the sixties.