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Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident
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Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident (Bill Ayers #2)

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  89 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
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 fr ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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Sep 09, 2013 Marcy rated it really liked it
I really loved this sequel to Ayers' first memoir, Fugitive Days. Although some of his history overlaps a bit with the previous book, this one is bookended by the Obama election campaign and Ayers' unwitting involvement in it. The best part of the book is when he talks about teaching and parenting and the interconnection of the two. I especially enjoyed the first chunk of the book when he narrates his experiences, some of which while he was still underground, working for a day care center in Ne ...more
Oct 04, 2013 Tim rated it liked it
Shelves: e-books, memoir
Although likely becoming prosaic, the phrases "walk the walk" and "talk the talk" remain effective shorthand. Their meaning is seen in the story of Bill Ayers. A founder of the radical Weathermen, Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn spent 10 years underground as a result of their actions against the Viet Nam War. After their emergence Ayers maintained his political beliefs, earned masters and doctorate degrees in education, and became a Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior Scholar at ...more
Sue Jackson
Nov 28, 2013 Sue Jackson rated it liked it
This book was interesting at times and did clarify some of the misconceptions of the Weather Underground and his days as a fugitive. Still, I could help but feel this was only written to capitalize on that. He was able to tell his story about being a radical yet still raising his children. He also was able to talk about how he because familiar again because of his potential connection to Obama. It is an easy book to read and is clearly written by a knowledgable man. Still, especially towards the ...more
Judy Gacek
I am having a hard time reconciling his later years with what I remember of his early years in the Weatherman organization when I was following the organization through the news. Since memories are not set in stone but are reconstructed each time we relate them we each probably have different memories of how we perceive the sixties. I would be interested in reading the first book about his fugitive years. I find his mind very interesting.
Donna Wetzel
Oct 02, 2013 Donna Wetzel rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
The book was well written. My problem with it is that his life, since his radical days is fairly mundane.
Thom Boone
Oct 10, 2014 Thom Boone rated it it was amazing
This is the second "confessional" look back penned by Bill Ayers and it seems to me more mature, more considered, and more brilliantly written than the earlier book (which seemed more sensational to me). The simple truth is that both Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn came from families with strong values and achieved a great deal in life prior to taking the lead in the antiwar movement; and both have done remarkable things and made very positive, highly respectable things with their lives since the ...more
Steve Buckler
Oct 14, 2013 Steve Buckler rated it liked it
You guys probably remember Bill Ayers as the "terrorist" Sara Palin accused Obama of "palling around with". This book is the result of his sudden rise to infamy (again) and discusses the issues resulting from the right deciding he was the "boogie man".

Ayers was a Weatherman in the 1960s and 70s and admits to bombing the pentagon (actually he put a few sticks of dynamite in a bathroom drain and made one hell of a mess ;-) The claims that he was a murderer are entirely false according to Ayers.
May 28, 2015 CJ rated it liked it
This book was not quite what I expected, but then, it shouldn't have been all that much a surprise. My previous exposure to his writing was "To Teach: A Journey in Comics" which had been a gift. I enjoyed his teaching philosophy and wished I had had his courage and freedom to teach that way myself. He was involved with and for his young charges in innovative ways. I met a totally different Bill Ayers are a convention in Portland - a little smug and challenging to the would-be admirer that I was. ...more
Nov 17, 2013 Cameron rated it really liked it
*I received this book as a firstreads giveaway*

When I first started this book, I wasnt sure how I was going to feel about it. I remembered the name "Bill Ayers" from the 2008 election, and I thought it would probably be a radical diatribe. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find the book quite interesting and level-headed, providing the real story of Ayers' life and perspective on the election.

Ayers has a very engaging voice and fascinating story; I wish I could have him as a professor! The
Dec 29, 2013 Adam rated it really liked it
Recommended to Adam by: Jayper Saper
Bill Ayers, Public Enemy Number One. Or, at least that's what the media reported as Barrack Obama ramped up his inaugural presidential campaign.

Bill Ayers, a long time activist, organizer, and radical educator, describes the period in his life when he came under fire for having stood on his values, and, at one point, stood too closely to the future president. Bill's years as a student organizer, and then a fugitive, were quickly grabbed by media outlets to try and paint him as a violent agitator
Barbara Rhine
Sep 03, 2014 Barbara Rhine rated it really liked it
Ayers' writing is like quicksilver. Nimble and intelligent, which gives great meaning to his ideas for a more just interaction between people, more joy in the process, social justice along the way that includes all of us, and that's just a sweet sample of what he is determined to say. Along the way, if you read this, you will learn a lot of personal information about Bill, Bernardine, and the rest of his family. It is a memoir in the best sense of the word. Based on his personal memories. And me ...more
Nancy Backas
Jul 20, 2016 Nancy Backas rated it liked it
I met Bill Ayers at my neighborhood hippie restaurant and really enjoyed his talk (and he signed my book!). Like so many others of my generation, I had flawed ideas about the Weather Underground. This book cleared up those misconceptions and I found myself agreeing with just about all of his politics and ideas about how the world should be. While I have never, nor could I ever see myself, acting as a radical, I appreciate his convictions and that he has stuck to his ideas over the decades. It wa ...more
Nov 15, 2013 Angela rated it really liked it
If you wonder about all the rumors the right spread about this man during the 2008 election, this is the perfect book to read. This book is insightful, witty, and humble. It humanizes someone who was turned into a monster by the media without the facts behind Ayers real life and hope for building a peaceful world. The information in this book is important but it is also a fun read as Ayers is a skilled writer.
Oct 03, 2013 MaryEllen rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads-won
I have very little interest in politics, but I love memoirs. I read the description, entered the giveaway, and gratefully won.

I found the book very enjoyable. I love the writing style and sense of humor. From what I gleaned, Bill is a very warm and intelligent man with very strong convictions who does everything he can to make the world a better place.
Halli Casser-Jayne
Nov 05, 2013 Halli Casser-Jayne rated it really liked it
You might not agree with everything Bill Ayers has to say in his book, but you will be overjoyed by the opportunity to have two hundred and twenty-five pages to pal around with the mind of dissident Bill Ayers. Meet Bill Ayers on The Halli Casser-Jayne Show, Talk Radio for Fine Minds, Wed. November 6, 3 pm ET live online @
Anna Rose
Feb 01, 2014 Anna Rose rated it it was ok
Bill Ayers gives an account of his life and defends his choices in this memoir. At times, it is engaging and funny. However it drags on a bit and has some rather random information that is boring and unneeded.
Dec 20, 2013 Julie rated it it was ok
skimmed it...didnt really feel like hearing about him
Steve Kemp
Oct 02, 2013 Steve Kemp rated it it was amazing
Outstanding .......must read for any readers of Mr Ayers' books,and those who misunderstand him and the "Weather Underground " .
Mar 30, 2013 StevenF rated it really liked it
A dedicate Activist, still working to make this a better world. Superb.
Elizabeth Spinelli
Elizabeth Spinelli rated it liked it
Feb 06, 2014
James Brown
James Brown rated it really liked it
Dec 03, 2013
Ron Bohannon
Ron Bohannon rated it it was amazing
Apr 05, 2016
John Miskec
John Miskec rated it it was ok
Mar 07, 2014
Thomas Riess
Thomas Riess rated it it was amazing
Feb 05, 2015
Shanti Elliott
Shanti Elliott rated it it was amazing
Sep 18, 2016
Amira rated it it was amazing
Mar 03, 2014
Rachael rated it liked it
Oct 16, 2013
antoinette torres
antoinette torres rated it it was amazing
Jul 03, 2014
Caitlyn rated it liked it
Aug 06, 2014
Hannah rated it it was amazing
May 30, 2017
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William Charles "Bill" Ayers is an American elementary education theorist and a former leader in the movement that opposed U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He is known for his 1960's activism as well as his current work in education reform, curriculum, and instruction. In 1969 he co-founded the Weather Underground, a self-described communist revolutionary group that conducted a campaign of bom ...more
More about Bill Ayers...

Other Books in the Series

Bill Ayers (2 books)
  • Fugitive Days: A Memoir

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