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August 04, 1996|CHARLES SOLOMON

SIXTIES GOING ON SEVENTIES by Nora Sayre (Rutgers University Press: $18.95, 323 pp.). Most of these incisive essays were written for the New Statesman more than 20 years ago; Sayre has appended afterwords, reflecting on the events she witnessed, including the 1968 Democratic convention, student strikes, Black Panther rallies and a John Birch Society convention.

Although she remains unapologetically liberal, Sayre complained about the inflated rhetoric of the left as early as 1969: "When the word 'revolution' is flying around like an old Frisbee, when 'fascism' twangs like a worn-out rubber band, even 'racism' may become too familiar--a word and a concept that may already have ceased to shock a numbed society."

The reader is left with the disturbing realization that, while the protesters of the '60s believed that they could pressure the U.S. government into altering its policies, their children, three decades later, perceive themselves as impotent before entrenched interests.

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