Host Kathleen Stephenson speaks with Clara Bingham about her book WITNESS TO THE REVOLUTION: Radicals, Resisters, Vets, Hippies, and the Year American Lost Its Mind and Found Its Soul, a riveting oral history of American society in the turbulent years of 1969-1970 as told by the people in the thick of it, including Jane Fonda, Daniel Ellsberg, Bill Ayers and many more. As the 1960s drew to a close, the United States appeared to be coming apart at the seams. The death toll in Vietnam was approaching fifty thousand. An ascendant counterculture was challenging nearly every aspect of American society—from work, family, and capitalism to sex, science, and male-female relations. Bingham brings the reader back to a moment when America seemed on the brink of a civil war as told by the activists, veterans, government officials and others who were part of that tumultuous time, even as the U.S. continued to fight a long, futile war abroad.
This is the right time for the stories in WITNESS TO THE REVOLUTION. Between Black Lives Matter and civil liberties activist like Edward Snowden, we are once again in a moment of confrontation, distrust of the government, and concern about the direction of the country. There are lessons that the latest generation can learn from the last one and the insights contained in this book are more relevant than ever.
Clara Bingham is a journalist, author and documentary film producer whose work has focused on social justice and women’s issues. Before she began working on Witness to the Revolution, Bingham produced a documentary that exposed the ravages of mountain top removal coal mining in Appalachia. The Last Mountain premiered at the Sundance Film festival in 2011, screened in theaters in over 60 cities, and won the International Documentary Association’s Pare Lorentz Award.
Bingham’s second book, Class Action: The Landmark Case that Changed Sexual Harassment Law, which she co-wrote with Laura Leedy Gansler, was adapted into the 2005 feature film North Country. Class Action tells the harrowing story of a group of female taconite miners in northern Minnesota who become the first women ever to sue a company as a “class” or a group, for sexual harassment. Class Action was a Los Angeles Times best book of the year and won the AAUW Speaking Out For Justice Award.
Bingham is also the author of Women on the Hill: Challenging the Culture of Congress, which chronicles the lives of four female members of the 103rd Congress following the 1992 “Year of the Woman” elections.