Synopses & Reviews
A vivid history of the largest act of civil disobedience in US history, in Richard Nixon's Washington
They surged into Washington by the tens of thousands in the spring of 1971. Fiery radicals, flower children, and militant vets gathered for the most audacious act in a years-long movement to end America's war in Vietnam: a blockade of the nation's capital. And the White House, headed by an increasingly paranoid Richard Nixon, was determined to stop it.
Longtime Washington journalist Lawrence Roberts, drawing on dozens of interviews, unexplored public and private archives, and newfound White House transcripts, recreates these largely forgotten events through the eyes of dueling characters. Woven into the story too are now-familiar names including John Kerry, Jane Fonda, and Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the Pentagon Papers. It began with a bombing inside the US Capitol — a still-unsolved case to which Roberts brings substantial new information. To prevent the Mayday Tribe's guerrilla-style traffic blockade, the government mustered the army and marines. Riot squads swept through the city, arresting more than 12,000 people. As a young female public defender led a thrilling legal battle to free the detainees, Nixon and his men took their first steps down the road to the Watergate scandal and the implosion of the presidency.
Mayday 1971 is the ultimately inspiring story of a season when our democracy faced grave danger, and survived.
"Vivid and deeply sourced....Roberts convincingly argues that the White House's authoritarian attitudes and actions foreshadowed the Watergate scandal." Publishers Weekly
"Perceptive, thoroughly researched....a tense, brisk narrative....sharply drawn portraits of key White House personnel and of many protestors....A vivid history of passionate protest." Kirkus Reviews
"The events culminating with the mass arrests of 12,000 people in Washington, D.C....have been curiously underreported in most histories of the Vietnam era. Roberts changes that with this compelling history of Mayday 1971. " Booklist
"Roberts conveys the personal and political impact of a pivotal event in American history in a narrative that will engage readers of the time period and resonate with today's social justice activists." Library Journal
About the Author
Lawrence Roberts has been an investigative editor with ProPublica, the Washington Post, Bloomberg News, and the Huffington Post Investigative Fund. He was a leader on teams honored with three Pulitzer Prizes. Mayday 1971 is his first book.