Attica Endures

A review that, not least, makes the case that we need a fresh look at the catastrophe. It took every bit of mental strength I had as a new adult to read Tom Wicker’s A Time To Die: it was that wrenching. Obviously, there were layers of horror not revealed at that time. The biggest distortion I remember is that Attica was supposed to be a uniquely decrepit hellhole. I do also remember good reporting that explained the takeover had happened almost by accident and the avalanche of bungling and impatience that led to the massacre. Of course, the racial element went virtually unmentioned. (One of the most valuable correctives in the Wicker book.)

Incidentally, I would argue that the Cuban Missile Crisis is the mother of all such tense negotiation situations. One of the saddest things I can think of is that gettin’ tuff and savin’ face — though it never works out in the long run, ever — remains such a prime option for so many of the powerful.

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