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Irene Watson

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A Generation Awakes by Wayne Thorburn: Book Review
by Irene Watson   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Posted: Tuesday, February 15, 2011

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"A Generation Awakes" by author Wayne Thorburn tells the story of Young Americans for Freedom and its activities on American campuses from 1960 forward as well as its role in creating the contemporary conservative movement in America. Wayne Thorburn brings an insider's perspective to A Generation Awakes while stressing an objective presentation. Beginning while in college, over the next fourteen years he held nearly every position in Young Americans for Freedom, including serving as national executive director.

A Generation Awakes: Young Americans for Freedom and the Creation of the Conservative Movement

Wayne Thorburn
Jameson Books (2010)
ISBN 9780898031683
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (1/11)

“A Generation Awakes” is an objective and comprehensive account of the history, philosophy, and objectives of the Young Americans for Freedom movement initiated, developed, and officially organized in the early 1960s. Wayne Thorburn is well qualified to author this objective account of the dramatic impact the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) has had on American politics over the last fifty years. He joined the organization in 1961 and served as executive director for the years 1971 – 1973.

The book details the activities of this group of conservative activists who took a stand against the liberalists who were espousing the New Deal in the post World War II years. They took a stand against Communism, took part in the Goldwater and Reagan campaigns, and established new conservative newspapers, and magazines, and opposed the stand taken by the Student for Democratic Society (SDS). Thousands of students have been influenced by YAF.

The influence of YAF still is being felt today as prominent former members have moved into positions of leadership in all sectors of American life. They have not only influenced conservative politics where they have served as campaign specialists and become members of Congress. They have made major contributions in forming policies in public service. They have brought about important conservative influences in the field of communications and media, and have established an important voice in academia. Their personal commitment to moral values has opened the door for them to play an important role in areas of religion. Many former members have become entrepreneurs and are making vital contributions in the world of finance, business, and industry.

I appreciated Thorburn’s unbiased coverage of YAF’s involvement in the issues relative to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Kennedy assassination, and the Viet Nam War. I also enjoyed the material Thornburg shared from the personal insights he learned through his own involvement in the organization.

Thorburn’s writing is engaging, packed with a balance of political narrative, entertaining anecdotes. His careful attention to detail in historical content is brilliant. His work is thoroughly researched and well documented.

“A Generation Awakes” is highly endorsed for its historical accuracy, comprehensive detail and is destined to become an indispensable resource in the study of conservative politics in America. It is a major work on the history of the conservative movement and will be appreciated by all American history enthusiasts. A colossal accomplishment.

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