There was a lot going on in politics in the late 1960s when Aaron Sorkin made his new Netflix movie. This is a list of some books that can help you learn more about the trial that put the Vietnam War on the stand, as well as its history and background. A John Grisham novel would be a better place for this courtroom drama than in a US federal courthouse. It was one of the most well-known legal fights in American history.
This movie is about the Chicago 7’s infamous 1969 trial, which has finally been made into a movie more than 50 years after the fact. Aaron Sorkin’s star-studded The Trial of the Chicago 7 has been getting a lot of attention from critics since it came out on Netflix this month. A group of anti-Vietnam War protesters were charged with inciting riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. They turned their trial into a circus by making jokes, dressing up in silly costumes, and even kissing the judge. Norman Mailer was a big star. That is also the case with Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, who was also a poet. But, of course, no movie could fit everything that happened in a five-month court case into 130 minutes, so it had to be cut short. So, here are some books that will help you learn more about the trial that, in the end, put the Vietnam War itself on the stand.
Miami and the Siege of Chicago by Norman Mailer (1968)
He himself testified at the trial of the Chicago 7. In order to understand the riots and other counterculture protests that took place in the late 1960s, you should read his account of the year America went up in flames.
Dozens of thousands of hippies, Yippees and other anti-war protesters crowded into the Democratic convention in Chicago in early April. They wanted to show their opposition to the Vietnam War. To them, the government was writing a check with young men’s blood that the country couldn’t pay for, and they thought that was bad. What started out as a peaceful protest quickly turned into days of riots, police raids and a lot of people getting hurt. When up to 200,000 people tried to storm the Pentagon in The Armies of the Night, Mailer was there to record it all. A swaggering piece of narrative non-fiction about the Chicago riots of 1968 came out. It would become the most important account of the events.
Revolutionary Suicide by Huey P. Newton (1973)
It was Bobby Seale, leader of the Black Panther Party, who was gagged and bound to a chair in court after a string of outbursts when Judge Hoffman (Frank Langella) refused to let him choose his own lawyer. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II played him in the movie.
Seale was the eighth person on the stand until he was dropped from the case. Co-founder: He also helped start a group called the Black Panther Party, which was very radical and wanted to fight police brutality against black people, among other things. In Revolutionary Suicide, his friend and Black Panther co-founder Huey P. Newton tells his story. It’s both a call for revolutionary change and a portrait of the inner circle of the Black Panther Party in America.
Howl by Allen Ginsberg (1956)
As a witness in the trial of the Chicago 7, Allen Ginsberg was made to read this poem in court. The goal was to make him look bad. As a well-known anti-Vietnam war activist, he was called to testify because he was friends with two of the defendants and because he took part in the protest that led to them. White tennis shoes and a raffish-looking handbag on his shoulder made him look like he was having a lot of fun when he came to court. He chanted “Hare Krishna” at the judge before reading sexually graphic and politically charged poetry to the jury.
He was cut from the movie, but Sorkin did include a scene where Ginsberg led a group of protesters through Lincoln Park while chanting “Ommmmm” for hours on end during a protest in the movie. Even though Howl was written in 1956, it became one of the most important works of the 1960s counterculture movement, even though it was written then.
Conspiracy in the Streets:The Extraordinary Trial of the Chicago Eight by Jon Wiener (2006)
It’s not the only thing that puts the trial in context, but this is the most interesting. John Lennon was investigated by the FBI for a long time because of his antiwar activism. Jon Wiener, an American historian, won a 25-year battle with the FBI to get the FBI to open its file on John Lennon. As he describes the “utter craziness of the courtroom,” Wiener shows “the humorous antics and the serious politics” that were at play in the trial that became a symbol of the late 1960s battle between the state and society. Theatrics and filibusters, as well as comical stunts, were all part of this trial.
The Chicago 7 (initially the Chicago 8) were a group of people from Chicago. This group of politically active hippies, antiwar activists, and Black Panthers all had one thing in common: They were all politically active. And how did 1968 become such a pot of rage?
The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby by Tom Wolfe (1965)
No matter how you bite it, it’s a mouthful. But so was the problem it tried to show. As you can see from the picture, that was American counterculture in the middle of the 1960s.
If you read this book, you won’t learn about the antiwar protests that would happen a year or so later, but it does show how they started and why they were so important. It shows the energy of the time with all of its kitschy Americana and progressive politics with spectacular vision. It shows a time when the United States was full of hope and prosperity before civil rights and the Vietnam draft brought cynicism to the party.
Styles of Radical Will by Susan Sontag (1969)
People in Chicago were not just angry. It was a time of great political and cultural change as the gears of change started to move. She can help us understand the “youthquake” that was happening in America at that time, and the radical ideas that were running it.
Sharp: In this collection of essays, she looks at a wide range of topics, from the Vietnam War to the rise of radical politics to film and pornography. American identity and its future also come up. What’s going on in America and a trip to Hanoi should be at the top of this list. But all of the essays capture, in Sontag’s own unique way, an essence of the times that is hard to match, and that is what makes them so good.