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A Time to Stir

Columbia '68

Paul Cronin



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Columbia University Press
29 December 2020
Series: Columbiana
For seven days in April 1968, students occupied five buildings on the campus of Columbia University to protest a planned gymnasium in a nearby Harlem park, links between the university and the Vietnam War, and what they saw as the university's unresponsive attitude toward their concerns. Exhilarating to some and deeply troubling to others, the student protests paralyzed the university, grabbed the world's attention, and inspired other uprisings. Fifty years after the events, A Time to Stir captures the reflections of those who participated in and witnessed the Columbia rebellion.

With more than sixty essays from members of the Columbia chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, the Students' Afro-American Society, faculty, undergraduates who opposed the protests, ?outside agitators,? and members of the New York Police Department, A Time to Stir sheds light on the politics, passions, and ideals of the 1960s. Moving beyond accounts from the student movement's white leadership, this book presents the perspectives of black students, who were grappling with their uneasy integration into a supposedly liberal campus, as well as the views of women, who began to question their second-class status within the protest movement and society at large. A Time to Stir also speaks to the complicated legacy of the uprising. For many, the events at Columbia inspired a lifelong dedication to social causes, while for others they signaled the beginning of the chaos that would soon engulf the left. Taken together, these reflections present a nuanced and moving portrait that reflects the sense of possibility and excess that characterized the 1960s.
Edited by:   Paul Cronin
Imprint:   Columbia University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm, 
ISBN:   9780231182751
ISBN 10:   0231182759
Series:   Columbiana
Pages:   512
Publication Date:   29 December 2020
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Paul Cronin's books include Werner Herzog: A Guide for the Perplexed (2014) and Lessons with Kiarostami (2015). His films include a study of Haskell Wexler's Medium Cool and, to accompany this book, a multichapter documentary on the Columbia University protests of 1968. He teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York. His website is

Reviews for A Time to Stir: Columbia '68

Exhilarating to some and deeply troubling to others, the student protests paralyzed the university, grabbed the world's attention, and inspired other uprisings. Fifty years after the events, A Time to Stir captures the reflections of those who participated in and witnessed the Columbia rebellion. * The New York History Blog * The wealth of detail, along with several amusing and poignant personal reflections, make it worth a read. * The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics and Culture * A remarkable collection. -- Frank A. Guridy * The Columbia Daily Spectator * A Time to Stir: Columbia '68 is a stunning achievement of historical perspective, grappling with an incendiary moment defined only by passion and pandemonium. The final result is the opposite of an organized consensus; the voices are older, wiser, but their stories still surge in an unbroken thread with their beliefs from half a century ago. * The Bowery Boys * A mesmerizing historical composite in which a core narrative is retold through multiple refractions. . . . The shared hope is that new generations, as if called by history, will find their own time and way to be brave and make a difference. -- Jeremy Varon * The American Historical Review * A Time to Stir: Columbia '68 is an excellent source book and will no doubt be of great value to future historians of the Sixties. -- Jonah Raskin * CounterPunch * A Time to Stir enables us to receive a comprehensive understanding of those seven days of chaos on the university's campus, as it serves as a platform for the views of individuals from different and opposing sides. . . . This meticulously edited work serves as a powerful tool to look back to this exemplary moment of student activism and willingness to fight the status quo for what is right. * Public Books * The definitive book on the Columbia student uprising. -- Clara Bingham * Vanity Fair * More than 60 participants and witnesses to the uprising provide impassioned, first-person accounts leavened by hindsight, but rekindled by stirring contemporary events. -- Sam Roberts * The New York Times * By collecting and arranging the testimonies of the historical actors who participated in perhaps the most well-known American student rebellion in the post-WWII era, A Time to Stir has issued a favor to future researchers. The breadth of perspectives in the book will pay deep dividends for those seeking to understand youth, power, and institutional change. -- Stefan Bradley, Loyola Marymount University A Time to Stir creates an extraordinary, fair-minded portrait of Columbia '68 and the effect it had on many of its participants. The myth is still out there of elite '60s-era student protesters leaving behind their radical youths soon after graduation. Columbia '68ers did not as a whole simply put their radical student days behind them but instead used their experiences and changed viewpoints to build new progressive lives that affected American society. -- David Farber, University of Kansas In this richly contextualized collection of essays written by participants involved in the student protests at Columbia University in the spring of 1968, historian Paul Cronin treats the topic as comprehensively as possible. A Time to Stir showcases a broad range of perspectives, draws out numerous themes, and reminds us why the Columbia rebellion remains relevant today. A Time to Stir also makes for dramatic, exciting, and provocative reading. This is can't-put-it-down history. -- John McMillian, Georgia State University This kaleidoscopic book does justice, at last, to the vortex of energies, passions, and illusions that boiled up in the cauldron of Columbia 1968. In A Time to Stir, the indefatigable Paul Cronin has assembled a fascinating range of chronicles and revelations that greatly illuminate one of the central confrontations of the sixties. -- Todd Gitlin, author of <i>The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage</i>

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