Full disclosure: My kids and I lived with Charles Degelman from 1968 – 1978. Much as we tried to avoid it, we grew up together. Our gypsy odyssey played out against a bloodstained background of nascent revolution and undeclared war. It is this same period of time that Degelman so vividly chronicles in Gates of Eden.
“Be realistic. Expect the impossible.”
Seven young people come of age, just in time to be drafted into Vietnam or beaten and shot in Detroit and Mississippi or gassed in Oakland and Chicago. They are propelled into activism by the turbulence of the 1960s and follow twisting paths to maturity through the minefield of US military arrogance. They carom off one another at meetings, rallies, and demonstrations, ultimately dividing over the issue of armed struggle. And always, in the shadows, the Masters of War hold tight to the controls.
This is not history lite. Degelman knows his territory far too well to superimpose an upbeat ending. America’s relentless lust for dominance and resources blights and impoverishes us still. As George Santayana set forth: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Read this book and be reminded.