Bill Ayers was thrust into the national spotlight during the 2008 presidential campaigns when Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin stated that Barack Obama was "pallin' around with terrorists", noting his friendship with Ayers, co-founder of the 1960s radical group The Weather Underground. In Public Enemy, Ayers details his life under public scrutiny with honesty and a refreshing amount of humor. Jeff Woodman contributes to the candor with a forthright and dignified performance that shows Ayers, a dedicated educator and activist, as a man who stuck to his principles even as he became a product of scorn by American conservatives.
In this sequel to Fugitive Days, Ayers charts his life after the Weather Underground, when he becomes the GOP’s flaunted “domestic terrorist,” a “public enemy.” Labeled a "domestic terrorist" by the McCain campaign in 2008 and used by the radical right in an attempt to castigate Obama for "pallin' around with terrorists," Bill Ayers is in fact a dedicated teacher, father, and social justice advocate with a sharp memory and even sharper wit.
Public Enemy tells his story from the moment he and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, emerged after years on the run and rebuilt their lives as public figures, often celebrated for their community work and much hated by the radical right. In the face of defamation by conservative media, including a multimillion-dollar campaign aimed solely at demonizing Ayers, and in spite of frequent death threats, Bill and Bernardine stay true to their core beliefs in the power of protest, demonstration, and deep commitment.
Ayers reveals how he has navigated the challenges and triumphs of this public life with steadfastness and a dash of good humor - from the red carpet at the Oscars, to prison vigils and airports (where he is often detained and where he finally "confesses" that he did write Dreams from My Father), and ultimately on the ground at Grant Park in 2008 and again in 2012.
Bill Ayers got caught in the crossfire of the 2008 presidential election during a Clinton--Obama primary debate. While he and his graduate students watched from his living room, moderator George Stephanopoulos all but accused Obama of conspiring with domestic terrorists—him.
Ayers describes the night of the debate in his introduction as having the “sudden sense that this cartoon character, Bill Ayers, who looked exactly like me and shared my name, address, and social security number, was about to become a punching bag in a presidential campaign.”
The Right took that baton and ran with it, making a public enemy out of a college professor and community activist, “The Weather Underground, suspended in amber all these years, was reborn out of the blue, not only active and breathing fire, but all of a sudden, more menacing and dangerous—and far, far better known—than it had ever been before.”
In Public Enemy, Ayers picks up where he left off in Fugitive Days, with he and his partner, Weather Underground leader Bernardine Dohrn, emerging from hiding to become educators, advocates for the disenfranchised, and parents.
Ayers explores the state of the left today and what it’s like when all the money and power of the Right turns its ugly glare on you.
Jeff Woodman gives a fine, nuanced performance, bringing a great deal of humanity to the reading.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
WHAT is this "book"??? I want my money back! For the last hour he's been dribbling on and on in watch paint dry on the wall details about what an innocent he and his wife or partner are or are not. I want my money back!
What do you think your next listen will be?
NOTHING by Bill Ayers
How could the performance have been better?
Leave out all of the minute, nauseating every day detail, we get it, you're innocent and you have day care employment to prove it.
What character would you cut from Public Enemy?
Any additional comments?
WHATEVER you do, do not buy this "book" you will have more fun sitting on a tack and learn more watching Gilligan's Island