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The New Republic Online
Thursday, October 30th, 2003


Family Circle: The Boudins and the Aristocracy of the Left

by Susan Braudy

A review by Alan Wolfe

At 9:30 a.m. on October 20, 1981, Kathy Boudin took her fourteen-month-old son Chesa to his baby-sitter, while her husband, David Gilbert, waited in the car. She planned, like any working mother, to pick up her child around 5 p.m. This was not the most realistic of expectations. Kathy's main task for the day was scheduled for 4 p.m. in Nyack, New York, about forty-five miles away. Even were she to finish her work promptly, it would be impossible to drive back over the Tappan Zee Bridge during rush hour, return the van that she was about to rent, and hop on the subway, all within an hour. At the very best, Chesa would have to be collected in the early evening.

But Chesa was never picked up by either of his parents that day. After dropping off their child, Kathy and David drove to the Bronx, rented their truck, covered the windows with contact paper, and crossed the river, where they met up with their colleagues. Those colleagues were a group of hard-nosed criminals and self-professed revolutionaries who had just robbed a Brinks truck and killed Peter Paige, one of its guards. Four sacks containing $798,000 were thrown into Kathy and David's truck; some of the robbers jumped in as well, and they began to drive back toward the bridge, followed by another van containing another $800,000 and the rest of the gang.

But their rendezvous had been spotted and the police had been alerted, so by the time the group arrived at the entrance to the New York Thruway five minutes later a roadblock had already been set up. The van was stopped, but at first the police were not sure they had the right vehicle. (They were looking for a van driven by blacks.) "Tell them to put the gun back," Kathy said to one of the officers who had begun to question them, and so they did. Unarmed, he and his colleague were sitting ducks for the bank robbers in the back of the van, who jumped out shooting. Officer Waverly "Chipper" Brown was killed immediately. Sergeant Edward O'Grady was killed while trying to reload his gun. Kathy started to run, but she was caught by an off-duty parole officer. In the confusion, David managed to drive away, but he was apprehended in Nyack along with the driver of the other vehicle.

Chesa was still at his babysitter's apartment; his planned pick-up time was almost precisely the moment when his parents were apprehended. Nine hours later, at around 2 a.m., Kathy was allowed to make a phone call from jail. She rang the home of William Kunstler, the radical lawyer, not the home of Ana Vasquez, the babysitter. Kathy had not forgotten about her son; the next day she finally reached Kunstler, who then called Kathy's father, and, together with their wives, they immediately drove to Nyack. Meeting them in her cell, Kathy asked them to pick up Chesa. It was now almost two full days after the bloody events. We do not know from Susan Braudy's terse, tough-minded, honest, and thoroughly absorbing book when and how Ana Vasquez was relieved of her charge. But we do know that Kathy's parents, understanding that their daughter was likely to be behind bars for some time, considered themselves too old to adopt her child. "We'd never heard of Pampers," Kathy's mother said. "We didn't know how to undo the stickum. The baby was crying." Kathy's fellow revolutionaries Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers decided to adopt Chesa on the spot. Kathy, to her dismay, learned that as a prisoner she had no right to see Chesa, and it was not until January 1983, when he would have been twenty-nine months old, that Kathy, recently transferred to a new prison, was finally allowed to touch her baby.

The events in which Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert participated left many painful questions. How did a group of high-achieving kids find themselves in the midst of such violence? By what processes of reasoning could intelligent people conclude that criminals were revolutionaries? How could individuals who claimed to be on the side of the working class participate in the murder of a local policeman? In what ways is the search for racial equality advanced by removing the only African American policeman in a town from his job, let alone from his life? And to all these can be added the question that I have the hardest time understanding: how could the parents of a baby drop the bundle of happiness off with a stranger in order to choose death over life?

Few parents would have made the choice that Kathy Boudin made, but then few of us have fathers who worked so assiduously to sleep with the people whom we invited over to the house. Leonard Boudin, possessed of a famous name in Jewish and radical circles — his uncle Louis Boudin had been one of the founders of the U.S. Socialist Party, a lawyer who defended radicals of one stripe or another, and a scholar of Marxism — impressed nearly everyone he met with his energy and his intensity of commitment. Many of those impressions were tinged with sexuality. Leonard seduced one of his daughter's friends (who happened also to be pregnant) while she was staying in her room. When Kathy's brother Michael dated Constancia Romilly — the daughter of the progressive writer Jessica Mitford and the future wife of the black activist James Forman — the father intervened again, inviting Dinky, as she was known, out for tennis dates before climbing into bed with her. Leporello's aria would barely do justice to Leonard Boudin, since Don Giovanni, at least in the opera, seduced only females. Leonard had no such inhibitions. He had a youthful love affair with Paul Goodman, shared a mistress with Fidel Castro, pursued (without success) Joan Baez, and was capable of leading a young legal associate to bed during a dinner party while his wife, accused by one person in the Boudin circle of pimping for her husband, looked the other way and smiled.

Kathy's mother, as the dinner party incident suggests, had problems of her own. Although Jean Roisman was not born wealthy, she found herself taken in by the aristocratic Leof family, whose Rittenhouse Square mansion in Philadelphia attracted prominent leftists (Emma Goldman, Eugene Debs, Earl Browder) and artists (Franchot Tone, Luther and Stella Adler, Horace Pippin, Marc Blitzstein, Clifford Odets). Jean's sister Esther, while in college at Penn, met and then married Izzy Feinstein, who under the name I.F. Stone would become the most famous radical journalist of his time. One member of the Leof circle, Bert Gross, who would later help to draft the Employment Act of 1946 and still later author a quirky book called Friendly Fascism, fell under the spell of the drop-dead gorgeous Jean and had a brief affair with her, but, knowing that she was out of reach, introduced her to Leonard Boudin, his high school classmate. Their marriage lasted fifty-two years, until his death in 1989.

An odd marriage it was. In 1953, Jean, depressed in part because of Leonard's numerous liaisons, tried to commit suicide, after which she underwent electroshock therapy. Leonard's reaction was to propose marriage to another woman. (His reasoning was that Jean had been unfaithful to him by trying to take her own life and therefore he no longer even had to keep up the pretense of being faithful to her). Rebuffed, Leonard welcomed Jean back, using her trauma to advance — and then to terminate when he tired of them — his sexual conquests.

Braudy is not always reliable in her reporting; she gets a few names and affiliations wrong. But even if half of what she says about the Boudins is true, and chances are that a good deal more than that is, this was a family circle from hell. Had Scott Fitzgerald been Jewish, he would have written about Leonard and Jean Boudin. Fighters on behalf of the underprivileged, families such as the Boudins and the Leofs lived lives of remarkable privilege themselves. (Anyone who has ever seen The Cosby Show will recognize the façade of the Manhattan brownstone in which Kathy Boudin grew up.) After adopting Chesa, Kathy's friends from the Weather Underground sent him to P.S. 9, attended mainly by blacks and Hispanics. After all, no one of means, no matter how leftist their sympathies, sends kids to public schools in Manhattan (Kathy attended the private Elisabeth Irwin High School, whose affiliated elementary school is the Little Red School House). Leonard exploded at the notion that Chesa would attend school with the unwashed. "My grandson must attend a traditional school," he announced to Dohrn and Ayers. "The little children are roughnecks and have no manners." For Boudin, nothing was too good for the Boudins. The family life of the Boudins was as marked by snobbery and competition as it was by sexuality and betrayal.

Some people thrive under such circumstances. Kathy's brother Michael did. At Harvard College, where he was a first-rate student, Michael came under the spell of Judge Learned Hand and eventually became a conservative, a Republican, a lawyer, and a judge. But others found it harder to live up to such pressure — including, it would seem, Kathy. People were always praising her brother. Her cousin Celia Stone had married a brilliant scientist (who would later win the Nobel Prize in biology and become a founder of Genentech). And then there was her father, a man capable of inviting one of Kathy's boyfriends for a swim for the purpose of checking out the size of his genitals.

"It seemed to Kathy that everyone in the Boudin family had 'Harvard-approved' stamped on their foreheads, except, of course, Kathy herself," writes Braudy. This was an illusion: Leonard, for all his fame, had been rejected by City College after high school (before his father pulled strings to get him in) and had attended law school at the not terribly exclusive St. John's. Still, Kathy followed in her father's footsteps. Unable to win acceptance to an Ivy League university, she went to Bryn Mawr. (Braudy was one of her classmates.) "The Boudins saw Bryn Mawr as Kathy's failure," Braudy remarks, a failure that would only be exacerbated when Kathy was rejected by Yale Law School. Aside from being a revolutionary, and not a very successful one at that, Kathy never had a career, which was as close to a cardinal sin as one can commit in the circles in which her parents traveled. (In prison, Kathy would earn her master's degree in education.)

"I'm so angry," Jean Boudin said during the pre-trial hearing for the Brinks defendants. Her anger, needless to say, had nothing to do with the taking of innocent life. "Why is Kathy doing this to us?" It is not easy to find your own self when you have a mother as codependent as Jean and a father as egomaniacal as Leonard. Braudy makes much of the narcissistic dysfunctionality of the Boudin family. Since Leonard was the attorney defending radicals such as Benjamin Spock and Daniel Ellsberg, Kathy — if she were either to shine in her father's eyes or to establish sufficient distance from his suffocating presence — was effectively disbarred from the practice of law. (She would briefly attend law school at Case Western Reserve University.) More, Kathy also rejected the very idea of law itself; her insurrectionary politics were intended as a repudiation of her father's decision, as the language of the day put it, to work within the system.

Thanks to the FBI, Braudy was able to listen to tapes of some of Kathy's conversations with her father. Leonard tried to impress upon his daughter what a great man he was for defending the antiwar activities of people such as Spock. Kathy would have none of it. "Either admire me or get the fuck out of my way," she told her father. "I'm the one doing serious work, manning the barricades in Chicago. I'm not interested in admiring your high jinks right now." Leonard delivered his own rebuff in return, dismissing Kathy's radical actions as "unserious pranks" and refusing to fly to Chicago to help his daughter after the Weatherman-sponsored "Days of Rage." No wonder Kathy's first call from prison was to Kunstler, her father's rival in the practice of radical law.

At least some of Kathy Boudin's rather odd choices in her life were the product of the family circle in which she was raised. As Braudy's book makes abundantly clear, the Boudin-style combination of economic privilege and leftist politics is toxic. Wealth invariably gives those fortunate enough to possess it the sense that society's rules are meant for others. What good is money if it does not come with the ability to buy one's way out of the lines, inconveniences, and obstacles that ordinary people come to expect? ("I'll pay you come the revolution," Jean would tell bill collectors before hanging up on them.) Leftist politics are supposed to counter this sense of entitlement, but they often intensify it, especially in Manhattan. Persuaded that their causes are just, their motives pure, and their deeds appreciated, radicals such as those in the Boudin circle found an additional reason for assuming that the conventions of everyday life simply did not apply to them. Leonard's sexual escapades were not just the product of a man with an over-active libido. They were also the expression of someone haughty enough to believe that he could do anything he wanted and leftist enough to expect praise as his just reward.

Kathy never really rejected Leonard, for she, too, wanted to flout authority and to win plaudits for doing so. Her sexual adventures were perfectly continuous with those of her father; the Weathermen aimed to smash monogamy and went through periodic binges during which everyone slept with everyone else, irrespective of gender, before veering off into binges of chastity. (Leonard at least seemed to enjoy his sexual freedom; Kathy's libertinism comes off as a duty.) And just as Kathy broke the law, Leonard bent it to defend his clients. He was standing next to Daniel Ellsberg, for example, while Ellsberg informed the FBI that he was not the person who liberated the Pentagon Papers. If Leonard and Jean ever sat down and told Kathy in no uncertain terms that the end does not justify the means, especially when the means are violent, there is no record of it in Braudy's grimly fascinating book. Instead Braudy writes that friends of the family "wondered if Kathy and Michael were ever categorically refused anything" — including, one presumes, parental acquiescence in Kathy's political fantasies.

For this reason, it is hard to take seriously the cries of betrayal issued by the Boudins at Kathy's increasingly radical actions. When Kathy entered a guilty plea for the Brinks robbery, which Leonard had taken the lead in negotiating, her father, Braudy tells us, "was wracked with alternating pain and fury: Why had Kathy thrown away her life? Was it to ruin his reputation and life?" Yet Leonard must have understood how faithful Kathy had been to his life and his work. Growing up in his household, she had learned that radicals were superior people, and she had carried herself like one ever since. Kathy's generation was frequently taken to denouncing "white skin privilege." How convenient for Kathy to include among the privileged everyone who shared her complexion, thereby allowing her (and maybe even them) to ignore the extra privileges that she enjoyed owing to her comfortable lifestyle and her do-no-wrong politics. Struggle though she might, Kathy would always be Leonard's daughter, adopting his old left sensibilities to new left strategies.

Not all of the rebels were red-diaper babies, but Kathy's diaper was the reddest of them all. Following the Freudian script with unerring accuracy, the radicals of the 1960s and 1970s called themselves a "new" left to pronounce dead the musty Stalinism of their parents. In reality, matters would prove more complicated. Unwilling to ally themselves with what they perceived as the unbending anti-Communism of American politics, new leftists often kept their criticisms of the Communist Party to themselves, and as the war in Vietnam escalated and their anger increased, they began making common cause with an earlier generation of Communists who, in their eyes, came to seem heroic.

For a Boudin, the question of what to do about the old left must have been particularly awkward. Braudy asks us to imagine what it must have been like to be a student at Elisabeth Irwin, whose graduating class each year sent ever newer recruits such as Kathy and her classmate Angela Davis into leftist causes, and in addition to be known as the daughter of the lawyer who represented Fidel Castro and the sons of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, especially when one of those sons, Michael Meeropol, was teaching Kathy to play the guitar. Those who stood in awe of Kathy's leftist pedigree were unlikely to know that Leonard, who had advised his clients not to cooperate with investigatory committees by refusing to answer whether or not they had been in the Communist Party, himself had answered the question under investigation. (It turns out that he had never joined the party and therefore did not have to provide the names of others who did.) Nor were they likely to realize that, although Leonard had defended the Rosenberg children in their custody fight, he had in fact turned down Julius Rosenberg's request to be his lawyer. (Boudin probably realized that the Communist Party wanted the Rosenbergs to be executed, the better to make them martyrs, and he was not about to be on the losing side of a famous case.)

Although the world may not have known of Leonard's ambivalent relationship with the old left, Jean and Kathy Boudin did, and they castigated him for it. "You took Judy Coplon instead of the Rosenbergs because she was so pretty and so famous," Kathy would say to her father, and she was most likely right. Judith Coplon's was one of the first great trials of what we now call the McCarthy period. Coplon had been a Justice Department clerk who was charged with stealing government documents and passing them on to the Soviet Union. Boudin won her freedom on appeal by discovering that the evidence against her had been collected illegally by the FBI. Yet for Kathy such victories, however important, could not bring Michael Meeropol's parents back to life. Braudy speculates — without evidence, but quite plausibly — that Kathy chose the next best thing: she would put herself in the shoes of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg by making herself a martyr for the cause.

It is not that Kathy wanted to be caught and put on trial; she and her Weathermen friends took pains to change their identities and to cover their tracks. Still, their ability to escape the authorities may have had more to do with the latter's incompetence and indifference than the revolutionaries realized. Kathy and her friends took unnecessary risks, such as speeding, that could easily have resulted in their capture. They cooperated with radical film-makers, evidently unwilling, despite their life on the run, to be out of the limelight. There was the decision — reached, it would seem, collectively — to have children, which is not the thing to do if you have to lam out of town quickly. Kathy herself maintained contact with her parents, the kind of communication that an FBI more interested in catching terrorists than protecting its bureaucratic turf would have been monitoring. And then there was the last desperate act, a robbery and a murder so badly planned and so ineptly executed that capture was all but inevitable.

There was one way in which Kathy certainly did act like the Rosenbergs: they abandoned their children for their cause, as she abandoned her child. But in another way Kathy must have thought she had outdone them. Julius had passed secrets to a county that was, at the time, one of our allies, one can imagine her thinking. She, by comparison, found herself in the house in Greenwich Village when one of her bomb-making comrades blew it to bits, and helped to liberate Timothy Leary from a minimum security prison in California (only to have Leary squeal on them a year later), and planned and carried out some twenty bombings (including one in a Pentagon bathroom) and participated in numerous robberies, and assisted in the prison break of the black radical Joanne Chesimard — and all this in addition to the three lives taken at Nyack. Not for Kathy and her circle the meekness of old leftists who quietly accepted their fate.

Kathy's Rosenberg complex was understood by Rita Jensen, with whom she had shared a co-op apartment on Manhattan's Morningside Drive. Kathy asked Rita to refuse to cooperate with the grand jury investigation into Kathy's crimes. One of the few people in this saga who actually chose to protect her children rather than give them up for the cause, Rita spurned Kathy's plea and accused her friend of trying to follow in the Rosenbergs' footsteps. The same comparison occurred to David Gilbert, although he took a quite different course of action. Leonard asked David to mitigate Kathy's punishment by claiming that she and David had been manipulated by the criminals who carried out the robbery. Julius Rosenberg had refused to cooperate with the government that had put him and his wife on trial by not testifying to his wife's innocence, even though by so doing he effectively condemned her to death, and David thought Julius had done the right thing; when he was offered the opportunity to sacrifice others (and himself) for principle, he did not resist. He chose not to turn his back on his militant co-defendants, and as a result Kathy had no choice but to plead guilty. The best that Leonard could negotiate on her behalf was twenty years to life. Whether David Gilbert ever figured into his calculations the effects of his actions on his wife and his son is known only to him.

"I hate you, I hate you for leaving me behind and for getting in jail," Chesa informed his mother on one of his visits to Bedford Hills. Braudy writes that he was "a violent, troubled boy." It is not difficult to understand why he beat his head against walls and was diagnosed as autistic by specialists. His mother had abandoned him and his father had chosen gang solidarity over parental love. Chesa must also have been aware of the jealous rivalry between his birth mother and his adopted mother. "It is not right that Chesa be raised by Bill & Bernardine with all decisions made by them," Kathy wrote to her father. But Kathy was in prison and Bernardine was free, and so it is not surprising who prevailed in this struggle; Chesa's adoptive parents moved him to Chicago, and out of Kathy's reach. According to Braudy, the move was crucial to his ability to get his life together.

Kathy Boudin had been a precocious youngster. In 1960, when she was seventeen, her radical political activities were featured in articles in the New York Times and the London Daily Mail. How appropriate, then, that Chesa, now a college senior, would be the subject of a profile in the New York Times in December 2002, after he won a Rhodes scholarship. "When I was younger, I was angry," he told Jodi Wilgoren, the Times reporter. "Now, I'm not angry. I'm sad that my parents have to suffer what they have to suffer on a daily basis, that millions of other people have to suffer as well." Held under maximum-security conditions, Chesa's birth parents were unavailable for interviews. But Chesa had four parents, and his adopted ones were only too happy to prattle to the newspaper. "Cecil Rhodes, I don't know what he would think if he were alive today; he'd probably be horrified," Bernardine Dohrn chipped in. "You know what I love about listening to Chesa?" Bill Ayers asked. "He confirms the natural cycle that your kids are always so much smarter and better than you are."

There is no gainsaying Chesa's success in overcoming the anger induced by his separation from his parents; but a rags-to-riches story this is not. Chesa, in fact, inherited the Boudin advantage. There is, first of all, his talismanic name: Chesa Jackson Boudin, each portion of which was carefully chosen. "Chesa," Swahili for dancer, was meant to celebrate the baby's feet-first birth and his links to the Afrocentric black revolutionaries whom his parents admired. (Their leader, Jeral Wayne Williams, called himself Doc Mutulu Shakur, and his stepson Tupac would later die a famous and violent death.) Chesa's middle name, honored George Jackson, who had been killed trying to shoot his way out of prison. And his last name came not from the undistinguished Gilbert side of his parental heritage, but from the illustrious Boudin side. It was as if the application to Yale was being written the day the baby's names were chosen. It seems somehow typical of the Boudin charm that by the time Chesa applied to college, Ivy League schools had decided to reject huge numbers of straight-A students in favor of youngsters who seemed interesting, and there could have been no child in America more interesting to all those 1960s radicals turned academic administrators than Chesa. A century and a quarter after Louis Boudinovitch was born in Russia, his name, shortened and transliterated into English, could open doors in America that had been closed to the Jews of his era.

Chesa also shared the self-centeredness of the Boudin clan. His concern for the world's victims never seemed to extend to the victims of his mother's actions. "I haven't talked to my father in twenty years," the orphaned Kim O'Grady commented when she read Chesa's account of how difficult it had been for him to inform his parents of his good fortune. And when Chesa had the gall to advise the families of the men his mother had helped kill to get over it — "I also was a victim of that crime. I know how important it was for me to forgive" — it was as if Leonard and Jean had come back to life. Where else but in the world of the aristocratic left is it possible to equate the sufferings of nine fatherless children with the tribulations of being a Rhodes scholar?

Not for Chesa, moreover, the decision of his uncle Michael to find his own understanding of how things work. The young man's politics are all one would expect from the red-diaper baby of a red-diaper baby. "I don't know much about my parents' tactics," Chesa informed Wilgoren. "I'll talk about my tactics." His denial of what his parents were really up to is about as credible as his mother's statement to the New York parole board that the money obtained in the Brinks robbery was going to be used for health clinics and recreation facilities in black neighborhoods. Of course Chesa knows all about his parents' tactics: why else would they have been in jail? At less guarded moments, Chesa wants the world to know that just as his mother's politics followed from her father's politics, his politics would follow from the politics of his mother and his father and Bernardine and Bill. "My parents were all dedicated to fighting U.S. imperialism around the world," he said of the four of them. "I'm dedicated to the same thing."

Chesa, though, differs in one significant way from his parents. For all her sense of superiority, Kathy was anything but upwardly mobile: from brownstone to Bedford Hills is not the usual course of upward mobility in America. But even at his tender age Chesa understands how to use leftist politics to get ahead in the world. "As a child, I relished my personal freedom and tried to compensate for my parents' imprisonment," he wrote in his application for a Marshall scholarship, on the off chance that the folks in England did not know who his parents were. "Now, I see prisons around the world: urban misery in Bolivia, homelessness in Santiago and illiteracy in Guatemala." It worked. Chesa got the Marshall, only to turn it down after he got the Rhodes.

So a new Boudin has appeared to defeat imperialism, and this returns us to the question of why Kathy and her friends decided to fight imperialism by linking themselves so completely with violence. Their actions can never be excused or explained away; other people were equally as freaked out by the Vietnam War or the urban riots without resorting to armed attack. There is no denying, of course, that many were pushed to the limit by America in the 1960s; I found myself in Washington in 1969 in the streets in front of the Department of Justice — Kathy, David, and Bernardine, dressed in helmets, were there, too — swallowing tear gas as the wife of the attorney general, watching from the balcony, compared us to the Russian revolutionaries. Since then, some of my generation have had second thoughts about the Vietnam War; they now believe that we really did need to stop Communist expansion, and Vietnam was as good a place as any to do it. I do not share those sentiments; the lies that my government told and the untold number of deaths that its ideological blindness caused are still capable of arousing my fury. Now another administration has told lies in another war, even if it is a more defensible one, and it is not hard to imagine a scenario in which an even newer left will turn in frustration to new days of rage, just as it is not impossible to foresee a beleaguered administration delighted to have domestic radicals whom it can blame for America's difficulties. Chesa Boudin, in other words, may find himself in a situation not unlike the situation of his parents when they were his age. And Kathy Boudin, who was released by the parole board this past summer, will soon have the opportunity to give her son the benefit of her motherly advice. (The more unyielding David Gilbert, sentenced to seventy-five years, may never see freedom.) One can only wonder what she will tell him.

Will she tell him that however angry President Bush's policies make him, he should never play with dynamite? Will she inform him that even victims can be criminals? Will she teach him the difference between narcissism and compassion? Most important of all, will she, when he has children of his own, urge him to put the well-being of her grandchildren before everything else, and in that way learn that because other parents also love their children, violent means can rarely justify self-certain ends?

Kathy Boudin should know all these things by now; she has certainly had time to reflect on them. But for her to pass on such wisdom, she will have to reject, and to instruct her son to reject, the legacy of the Boudin clan. Susan Braudy's book provides genuine insight into how truly disgraceful that legacy has been. In a more innocent age, we judged people and the movements to which they belonged by how they responded to the large public questions of the day. The Popular Front politics of Leonard Boudin's time wound up on the wrong side of nearly all of those public questions. It mistook Stalin's totalitarianism for social justice. It manipulated its friends and deceived its enemies. It failed the true radicals of the postwar period, those who risked their lives to overthrow communism where it had entrenched itself. It coarsened the culture. Had it ever achieved power — fortunately the old left never became as powerful as the new right insisted that it did — the country would have been far worse off.

Kathy Boudin's generation — my generation — held that the personal was political. The result was a loss of innocence, devastating in its consequences. For now we judge the people and the movements to which they belong by private criteria as well as by public ones. We examine their motives as well as their objectives, their psychology as well as their politics, their fantasies as well as their five-year plans. Although Braudy offers particulars about this awful family that we may not want to know, we know them now, and knowing them we have additional reasons to breathe a sigh of relief that the Boudins, father and daughter, never got the revolution that they craved. People who cannot control themselves should never be permitted to control others.

Alan Wolfe is a contributing editor at TNR.

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