Free Speech Movement Books

Narratives of the Free Speech Movement

There are many accounts of the conflict, many stories of the FSM. Though all overlap, no two survey quite the same ground. Though most agree on much that's important, their different perspectives are rich with variety and consequence.

Books about FSM Available Online

The Beginning: Berkeley, 1964
Max Heirich
Columbia University Press, New York and London
Copyright © 1968, 1970 Columbia University Press

Berkeley: The New Student Revolt (partial)
Hal Draper

Berkeley: The New Student Revolt (entire book)
Hal Draper

The FSM: An Historical Narrative
Bettina Aptheker
Published originally with an interpretive essay by Robert Kaufman and Michael Folsom in
FSM: The Free Speech Movement at Berkeley
by the W.E. B. DuBois Clubs of America, 1965.

David Lance Goines
Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, California
Copyright © 1993

The Wedding Within the War
Michael Rossman
Doubleday, 1971

Heretic's Heart: A Journey Through Spirit and Revolution
Margot Adler
Beacon Press, Boston, 1997
Chapter 4, The Free Speech Movement

Looking for the Future
a personal connection to yesterday's great expectations today's reality and tomorrow's hope
Leon Wofsy

Jeff Hirsch's What Was The Free Speech Movement (pdf)


Personal histories, stories, and memoirs

Margot Adler, "The Free Speech Movement"

A richly autobiographical account, woven from a freshwoman's family letters and mature reflection, portraying the FSM as an early, vital episode in the education of a pagan feminist. (1964, 1996; 34 pp.)

Robert Hurwitt. "Present at the Birth: A Free Speech Movement Journal"

The detailed journals of a graduate student record his involvement during the early action (9/23-10/2) and climactic events (12/1-9). An evocative personal introduction and a very brief summary of the months between tie the entries together. (1964, 1984; 18 pp.)

Joel Pimsleur, "Inside Sproul Hall" as written to Ralph Gleason

A young reporter assigned to cover the Sproul Hall sit-in from inside writes about what he can't report. (1964; 5 pp.)

Michael Rossman, "The Birth of the Free Speech Movement"

In a tape-recording made the next morning (10/3), a graduate student recounts the raw experience of the Police Car Sit-in, and recalls the developments leading to this crisis, launching the FSM's historical project. (1964; 18 pp.)

Book-length Histories

Margot Adler, "Heretic's Heart: A Journey Through Spirit and Revolution"

The renowned NPR correspondent offers a fresh perspective of the sixties, in a candid memoir of civil-rights work, the Free Speech Movement, and her correspondence with a young American soldier in Vietnam. (1997)

Bettina Aptheker, "Intimate Politics: How I Grew up Red, Faught for Free Speech, and Became a Feminist Rebel"

A gripping and beautifully rendered memoir, Intimate Politics is at its core the story of one woman's struggle to still the demons of her personal world while becoming a controversial public figure herself. (2006)

Robert Cohen, "Freedom's Orator: Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s"

Here is the first biography of Mario Savio, the brilliant leader of Berkeley's Free Speech Movement, the largest and most disruptive student rebellion in American history. Savio risked his life to register black voters in Mississippi in the Freedom Summer of 1964 and did more than anyone to bring daring forms of non-violent protest from the civil rights movement to the struggle for free speech and academic freedom on American campuses. (2009)

Robert Cohen and Reginald Zelnik, eds. "The Free Speech Movement: reflections on Berkeley in the 1960s"

Drawing from the experiences of many movement veterans, this collection of scholarly articles and personal memoirs illuminates in fresh ways one of the most important events in the recent history of American higher education. (2002)

Hal Draper, Berkeley: the New Student Revolt (1965, 150 pp.)

A coherent history by an independent Socialist, allied to the FSM. Draper's well-paced account of the political drama, extending through Spring 1965, is informed by serious analysis of many themes. Many will find this the most useful book-length treatment of the FSM.

Jo Freeman, "At Berkeley in the Sixties: Education of an Activist 1961-1965"

Tells the story of Jo's involvement with the Bay Area Civil Rights Movement and the Berkeley Free Speech Movement in the 1960s. An unromanticized but inspiring account of a political activist's coming-of-age. (2004)

David Lance Goines, The Free Speech Movement (1993, 624 pp. + 130 pp. appendices, etc.)

Goines' enthusiastic story of his involvement at age 19 continues through his jail term in 1967, and justifies the book's subtitle, "Coming of Age in the 1960s." Yet this is the broadest account of the FSM from its own perspective, for the narrative is richly woven with hundreds of pages of interviews with other participants, illuminating key developments and perspectives.

Max Heirich, The Spiral of Conflict: Berkeley, 1964 (1971, 428 pp. + 74 pp. appendices, etc.)

This sociological study focuses on the dynamics of communication and conflict among students, faculty, and administration. Heirich's careful documentation makes this the most detailed and reliable chronological record of the conflict's events and interactions. His analysis clarifies the immediate interest-dynamics that made the conflict's progression inexorable.

Seymour Martin Lipset and Sheldon S. Wolin, eds., The Berkeley Student Revolt: Facts and Interpretations"

In this volume two professors of political science at Berkeley, themselves in disagreement over the meaning of the revolt, have tried to assemble as wide a range of significan views--from participants on both sides and outside observers--as possible. (1965)

Seth Rosenfeld, "Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power"

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 of California president Clark Kerr. . (2012)

Steve Warshaw, The Trouble in Berkeley, (1965, 122 pp)

The complete history, in text and pictures, of the great student rebellion against the "new university."

Period Histories

Ellen Schrecker, The Lost Promise: American Universities in the 1960s, (2021,)

Chapter 4, "The Berkeley Invention"


Narratives from formal reports

From "Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Student Conduct" (Oct. 1964, 4 of 13 pp.)

This narrative by a committee of the Academic Senate covers events through the student "infractions" of September 30, from a perspective of possible disciplinary action. Though less actively critical of the administration than the Byrne Report's later account, it helped shape faculty opinion during the conflict.

Bettina Aptheker, "The FSM: An Historical Narrative" (Feb. 1965, 24 pp.)

Less personal than most participant reports, but hardly less passionate. Aptheker's methodical review of tactics and strategy -- from the perspective of a political organizer, informed by membership on the FSM's Steering Committee and in the Communist Party -- is the best medium-sized introduction to the FSM's story. (It largely left political interpretation to a companion essay in the W.E.B. DuBois Clubs' booklet on the FSM.)

"Highlights of the Fall Events" from the Byrne Report to the Board of Regents (July 1965, 6 of 50 pp.)

A brief, relatively objective review, from an investigation commissioned by a Committee of the Regents.

From Appellants' Opening Brief, People of the State of California vs. Mario Savio and 571 Others (1966, 32 of 284 pp.)

This narrative focuses on facts pertinent to defense of those arrested in the FSM's climactic sit-in. Its last 20 pages cover the events of December 2-3 in considerable technical detail.

FSM in Fiction

Peter Collier, "Downriver"

But more damaging still are Cabell's interruptive flashbacks (he was a Sixties radical who became disillusioned) and Collier's efforts to link the book's disparate parts by heavy-breathing thematics and indiscriminate politicizing. (1978)

Sara Davidson, "Loose Change"

This is a compelling story of the experiences of three young women who attended the University of California at Berkeley and became caught up in the tumultuous changes of the Sixties. Sara Davidson follows the three—Susie, Tasha, and Sara herself—from their first meeting in 1962, through the events that "radicalized" them in unexpected ways in the decade after the years in Berkeley. Susie navigates through the Free Speech Movement and the early women's movement in Berkeley, and Tasha enters the trendy New York art and society scene. Sara, a journalist, travels the country reporting on the stories of the sixties. (1977)

Ruth Tenzer Feldman, "The Ninth Day"

A shy, injured Jewish teen travels from Berkeley’s 1964 student protests to 11th-century Paris, where only she can save a newborn. (2013)

David Hirschberg, (pseudonym,) "Jacobs’s Rainbow"

...he writes about what happened behind the scenes of the Free Speech Movement which provides the backdrop for a riveting story centered on his emergence into a world he never could have imagined. (2021)



This page last changed April 14, 2021