Rebel Mother: My Childhood Chasing the Revolution

In This Review

Rebel Mother: My Childhood Chasing the Revolution
by Peter Andreas
Simon & Schuster, 2017
336 pp.
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Now a professor of international relations at Brown University, Andreas recalls his extraordinary childhood travels in Chile and Peru with his mother, Carol, a radical activist. In the early 1970s, Carol abandoned a comfortable suburban life and migrated with young Peter to a communal cooperative in Berkeley, California (where her path briefly crossed my own). Later, she brought Peter along as she sought out more intense political struggles in shantytowns and poor rural communities in Chile during the ill-fated government of Salvador Allende and in the highlands of Lima, Peru (breeding grounds of the guerrilla movement the Shining Path). Drawing on Carol’s extensive, reflective diaries and his own sharp memories, Andreas paints vivid, mostly empathetic portraits of the many grass-roots activists they encountered. Eventually, Carol’s radical feminism bumped up against Latino Leninism; identity politics clashed with class struggle. She retreated to her homeland but remained passionately engaged in local political struggles until her death in 2004. Rebel Mother is a warm, tender tale of protective love and codependency in a mother-son pair living in extreme circumstances. Carol’s ultimate triumph: both Peter and an older brother, Joel, have grown up to become creative, purposeful scholars.