“…leaves a breathtaking impression. Having deepened and purified his convictions over 40 years of personal and political struggle, Avakian sounds a high, sustained cry for complete social transformation almost as if he were the trumpet of Lenin himself.”– San Francisco Chronicle (Read full review here)
“Bob Avakian brings candor and sometimes retrospective insight into what it means to grow up white and male in our patriarchal, capitalistic culture and still to emerge as a leader of the fight against social injustice. His memoir is fascinating and inspirational.”– Carol Downer, co-founder, Feminist Women’s Health Centers
“Beyond the compelling ideological and philosophical ruminations from the book’s early chapters, when all the fun of football vanishes and he struggles with a dreadful sickness, rests the evidence of Avakian’s fortitude and resilience that are hallmarks of his character and integrity.”– Herb Boyd
“What do you want to be when you grow up? Such is the perennial question posed to each generation. In a child’s world the answers are usually simple and predictable: fireman, bus driver, movie star, doctor, sports hero, revolutionary communist. Huh?!? Well, it is unlikely that being a revolutionary when he grew up was the first thing that sprang to Marx’s mind. And it certainly did not for Bob Avakian, Chair of the Revolutionary Communist Party. Avakian’s fascinating autobiography From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist reveals the complexity of a human being seeking to change the world while interpreting life’s deepest meanings and contradictions in revolutionary terms.”– Revolution newspaper (Read full review here)
“…this book is an insider’s view of what life is like inside a revolutionary organization in the world’s most imperial nation. It is a fast-paced yet detailed description of radical organizing during one of the US’s most rebellious periods.”– Counterpunch.org
“The reader gets information about the Black Power struggle and black nationalist organizations that is available nowhere else. Avakian’s recollections speak volumes about contemporary race relations and recount the important events of several eras… entertaining and honest… screams out to the rap generation.”– Elemental Magazine
“In addition to recounting a life lived during very interesting and important times; in addition to recounting his involvement with significant historical figures and events; beyond sharing his personal story; in From Ike to Mao and Beyond, Bob Avakian offers a fresh, new look at a system of thought that has, by some, been consigned to the ‘ash heap of history.’… Bob Avakian’s new and innovative conception of ‘Communism’ deserves consideration.”– The Free Press
Winter makes us think of summer. The good news bad times may bring is that if we can imagine a better time, we can row to the opposing side of bad history – a different and better world. Students, more than dreaming, demand a map for the row.
I can point to three examples of maps of interest to students of today to get them to tomorrow. Motorcycle Diaries in words and film recreates the journey of two youth across a continent of bad hurt and seeming helplessness. At the end of their trip, they had a map to change this world. Not that long ago during the wars and turbulences of the sixties, a former prisoner shared his bad times and good hopes with the rest of us, Malcolm X Autobiography. Today students are checking out both the book and the film with hopeful eyes.
In a journey closer in time and nearer in turf to us now, Bob Avakian travels a journey from a certain yesterday to a possible tomorrow in From Ike to Mao and Beyond. This diary of hopes and journal of lessons narrates how some youth went from troubling days to challenging actions to sharing dreams. Bob Avakian imagines and knows he is not the only one and he is ready to share dreams, his and ours. His memories are sharp and clear, and hence the lessons he has learned are that much more compelling as maps for those who demand a better world. His shared experiences, with unflinching candor and generous warmth, are his respects for those of strong heart and clear mind, those ready to do the work of getting to the other side of history.
Thus, my friends, I advise you to prepare yourself in the spring for a plentiful summer, by putting aside this tiresome winter by some good words for bad curses, turning the bad into good by our actions.– Dr. Juan Gomez-Quiñones, historian and writer, UCLA
The importance of critical thinking is an important theme of From Ike to Mao and Beyond. This approach influenced Bob Avakian’s development in the transformation he went through as an individual. He was going along with his life, with a middle class background, then he began to change. There were 3 main themes that influenced his life: communism, socialism, and the civil rights movement.
One example of Bob Avakian looking for the truth was described in the book when Kennedy made a speech during the Cuban Missile Crisis incident in Cuba. He said the U.N. charter forbade the Soviet Union from having missiles in Cuba. Bob Avakian went to look up the U.N. Charter, read it several times and found out he had been lied to.
As a professor, I and other professors want their students to be critical thinkers. This book can open people up to an approach of how to look at things with a critical eye. My mom who is from the South has commented that growing up there you understood where you stood because people would just come out and say what they thought. People like George Wallace (an extremely racist former Governor of Alabama) would just outright say he thought Blacks were inferior. Whereas in the North there would be a covering up of how people thought.
During the Civil rights period, people felt deeply that there needed to be a change and they were willing to do something about it. They had to “step outside of the box” in willing to go out and dare to struggle for something different with different people. They did not know the outcome of what would happen if they did this. That is what is needed today. People need to take risks and not accept what’s going on. Bob Avakian did this with his life. He was looking for the truth and he has pursued that, not knowing where that would lead him, taking risks.
I was talking to a friend about the memoir, and my friend said, “Dude. This is communism you’re talking about.” I said, “Look into it. Did you ever read the Communist Manifesto? Communism on paper is a beautiful thing. Just because things happened in Russia or China that weren’t good, you shouldn’t reject it. Capitalism has very wealthy people, a middle class, but a lot of people are two paychecks away from poverty. Under capitalism there are a few people who hoard all the wealth.” After this back and forth, my friend is now reading the book. I believe people can get drawn into the story from a humanistic approach. If you go through Bob’s story, you get to see how he came to discover socialism and communism.
The students need to read this.– Robert Keith Collins, Ph.D., Homalusa: Center for African and Native American Research
“This book comes with my highest recommendations to aspiring activists or anyone who, like Avakian, holds no respect for unearned and unwarranted authority. It’s also a wonderful memoir for anyone who enjoys reading diverse perspectives of history.”– Laney College, Oakland, California
“I recommend this book to the high school student interested in joining the fight against human oppression and for anyone hoping to enlighten themselves with the life of one of the greatest civil rights leaders of our time.”– Oakland High School
“The most fascinating section of his book is the first section, in which Avakian describes his experiences with racism at BHS in the 1960s. His insights and perspectives on Berkeley are thought provoking. Many of his opinions and views are considered radical, but they are intriguing nonetheless.”– Berkeley High Jacket
“He didn’t spring from high school a full-fledged Marxist revolutionary. He slowly evolved from the son of a liberal Democratic judge who dreamed of becoming a basketball coach into a full fledged communist activist. Indeed, there’s something rather true to life about this.”– Review by Stanley Rogouski
“…incredibly interesting.”– Inside Higher Ed, Intellectual Affairs