Split: A Counterculture Childhood

“This account of being raised by sixties radicals may be the best argument for the left since Marx.” The New Yorker

In 1969, Lisa Michaels’s father was sentenced to two years in prison for his part in an antiwar protest. Lisa was three years old and had recently been captured in Life magazine carrying a Vietcong flag at an antiwar rally. Her parents divorced, and she spent the early seventies touring the country with her mother and stepfather in a customized mail truck-complete with oriental rugs, fold-down beds, and a woodstove-until they settled in a small northern California town to grow vegetables.

Split: A Counterculture Childhood offer a child’s-eye view of the counterculture and protest movements. Michaels writes clearly about the pressures and freedoms of her childhood: about outhouses, communes, and demonstrations, and about consecrating her father and stepmother’s marriage by reading from the Quotations of Chairman Mao Tse-tung. She also looks at what came after, for her parents and herself, as the wild days of the seventies gave way to the Reagan era. Split highlights the effects of such contemporary domestic staples as divorce, when a child is “split” between two very different families. An award-winning poet, Michaels doesn’t offer pat conclusions about this complicated era; instead, she paints a clear-eyed, insightful picture of the way her upbringing shaped her, and of how the legacy of the sixties played out in one remarkable family.

Praise for Split


Michiko Kakutani review of Split in New York Times

Adam Goodheart review of Split in New York Times Book Review

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