Subversives
The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power

Rosenfeld, Seth
Publisher:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, United States
Year Published:  2012  
Pages:  752pp   ISBN:  9780374257002
Library of Congress Number:  LD760.R67 2012   Dewey:  378.1/9810979467
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX16063

Rosenfeld provides an account of the FBI’s secret -- and highly political -- involvement with three iconic figures at Berkeley during the 1960s: the ambitious neophyte politician Ronald Reagan, the fierce but fragile radical Mario Savio, and the liberal university president Clark Kerr.

Abstract:  Subversives traces the FBI’s secret involvement with three iconic figures at Berkeley during the 1960s: the ambitious neophyte politician Ronald Reagan, the fierce but fragile radical Mario Savio, and the liberal university president Clark Kerr. Through these converging narratives, the award-winning investigative reporter Seth Rosenfeld tells a dramatic and disturbing story of FBI surveillance, illegal break-ins, infiltration, planted news stories, poison-pen letters, and secret detention lists. He reveals how the FBI’s covert operations—led by Reagan’s friend J. Edgar Hoover—helped ignite an era of protest, undermine the Democrats, and benefit Reagan personally and politically. At the same time, he vividly evokes the life of Berkeley in the early sixties—and shows how the university community, a site of the forward-looking idealism of the period, became a battleground in an epic struggle between the government and free citizens. The FBI spent more than $1 million trying to block the release of the secret files on which Subversives is based, but Rosenfeld compelled the bureau to release more than 250,000 pages, providing an extraordinary view of what the government was up to during a turning point in our nation’s history. Part history, part biography, and part police procedural, Subversives reads like a true-crime mystery as it provides a fresh look at the legacy of the sixties, sheds new light on one of America’s most popular presidents, and tells a cautionary tale about the dangers of secrecy and unchecked power.

[From publisher]



Table of Contents

Preface ix
Map: Berkeley in the 1960s x

Prologue: A Meeting at the Governor's Mansion 3

Part 1 The FBI on Campus
1 Spies in the Hills 11
2 The Responsibilities Program 28
3 The Undertaker 36
4 The Rise of Clark Kerr 44
5 The Essay Question 64
6 Protest at City Hall 77
7 Communist Target-Youth 88
8 The Trial of Robert Meisenbach 100
9 An Eye-opener 112
10 The FBI Story 127

Part 2 Student Radicals
11 The Police Car 153
12 The Free Speech Movement 172
13 A Leak to the Press 198
14 Sit-in at Sproul Hall 216
15 No Evidence 232
16 An Angry Young Man 242
17 Vietnam Day 260

Part 3 The Rise of Reagan
18 The Governor's Race 291
19 The Peace Trip Dance 305
20 Sources on Campus 326
21 Landslide 347
22 Fired with Enthusiasm 368
23 Obey the Rules 379
24 A Key Activist 406
25 At Bayonet Point 418
26 People's Park 447

Epilogue: The Aftermath 489

Appendix: My Fight for the FBI Files 505
Notes 513
Selected Bibliography 677
Documents, Interviews, and Other Sources 689
Acknowledgments 703
Index 707
A photographic insert follows page 250