Speak Freely. Read Freely.

We welcome you, the incoming freshman class, to the Cal campus on the 50th anniversary of an important period in our history, one that still defines a significant portion of the university’s public identity—the Free Speech Movement. As part of marking that anniversary, we’ve compiled a series of recommended readings on the subject of free speech for the 2014 edition of UC Berkeley’s Summer Reading List for Freshmen. We’re quite sure you’ll find something of interest to you on this list.

Every year, faculty, staff, and students offer their reading recommendations based on a particular theme, and then we share these books with the incoming class. There will be no exam; these are not required readings. Rather, these are works that these members of the campus community found compelling, and which they think you would too. The list is always eclectic, and always interesting. This year’s is no different.

You’ll find books here that treat the people and events of Berkeley in fall 1964 and soon after. You’ll also find books, both fiction and nonfiction (and some other media), that deal with other issues, places, and people that touch on the theme: freedom of the press, the women’s movement, Malala Yousafzai, Nelson Mandela, and so much more.

We encourage you to look up one, two, or all of them in one of UC Berkeley’s libraries, which hold one of the richest collections in the world. You can also find past years’ reading lists at the home page for reading.berkeley.edu. Pick a book, then find a comfortable patch of grass on the Memorial Glade or a chair deep in the stacks of Doe Library, and take your place in the free thinking community of avid readers.


Jennifer Dorner
Instruction Services Division
The University Library

Michael Larkin

College Writing Programs

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Freedom’s Orator: Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s
Robert Cohen
New York: Oxford University Press, 2009

Robby Cohen has written a gripping account of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement that took place in 1964, and the role of the student leader Mario Savio in that movement. Growing up in a working-class Catholic family, Savio struggled with a stammer, but he overcame his stammer to become a passionate and eloquent orator who led the Free Speech Movement in its struggle for political and academic freedom. Cohen tells the story of how Savio became a committed activist as the result of his experiences registering black voters in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer of 1964, and goes on to give a blow-by-blow account of the Free Speech Movement, its struggles and its final success. Here at Berkeley the Free Speech Movement Cafe stands as a memorial to the Movement and Savio’s role in it. Cohen’s book is both a biography of a remarkable individual and an account of a pivotal moment in Berkeley's history, and has been selected for this year’s “On the Same Page” program. (For more information, visit onthesamepage.berkeley.edu)

Dean of Biological Sciences
Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology
Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

Steve Martin works on the molecular biology of cancer and the cellular signaling mechanisms that regulate cell proliferation and motility. 

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Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power
Seth Rosenfeld
New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012

Seth Rosenfeld gave a riveting talk at the Free Speech Movement cafe on campus when the book came out. Rosenfeld, a local journalist, spent over three decades compiling the material upon which his award-winning book is based: the extensive FBI files on people at the University of California, investigations instigated by the powerful J. Edgar Hoover. Obtaining this material was the result of numerous suits demanding access to documents under the Freedom of Information Act, and we readers have been given this compelling book as a result of Rosenfeld’s impressive persistence.

Librarian for Judaica, Yiddish, and Israel Studies

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The Portable Sixties Reader
Ann Charters, editor
New York: Penguin Classics, 2003

Great source for those interested in learning about the Free Speech Movement in context. The book presents a collection of major texts emerging from and about the Free Speech Movement together with readings about the chief social changes taking shape during the 1960s, including those related to the civil rights movement, the anti-Vietnam war movement, the women’s rights movement, and the environmental movement. The book includes an eclectic selection of texts by some of the key figures embraced by the Free Speech movement such as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Bob Dylan, as well as such notable Berkeleyans as Susan Sontag and Alice Walker. Poems and lyrics, personal narratives, political speeches, and scholarly studies can all be found inside this concise yet thought-provoking volume.

French Department

Vesna Rodic’s primary research and teaching interests include nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature and culture, poetic studies, aesthetic theory, nationalism, multilingualism, and writing pedagogy. She is affiliated with Berkeley’s UndocuAlly Program as well as The Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, where she serves as a diversity facilitator for the Multicultural Education Program.

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Loose Change: Three Women of the Sixties
Sara Davidson
Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1977

The book follows three women from their arrival at Cal in 1961 through the assassination of President Kennedy, the Vietnam teach-ins, the FSM, and the People’s Park era. This shows the evolution of sorority women as events at Cal and throughout the world change their lives. It also introduces the reader to life at Cal during that era beyond what was happening at Sproul Plaza. 

Goat Brothers
Larry Colton
New York: Doubleday, c1993

This book traces the lives of five students/athletes at Cal from their days during the FSM through the rest of their lives. It offers insight on what many (if not most) of the students at Cal were doing during the FSM days and touches on race (including one of the student’s attempts to conceal his race). Without this perspective, the complexity of life at Cal in those days (attending classes, protesting during the day when not in class, partying on the weekend, and going to football on Saturdays) could be missed by people only reading about the political events of the day.

David Horowitz
New York, Ballantine Books, 1962

The book traces the increasing activism of Berkeley students beginning in the late 1950’s through the early 1960’s including the HUAC protests, the battle to eliminate mandatory ROTC, and the increasing role of students in dealing with the University’s administration. Without this history, the FSM movement loses much of its context.

Professor of Construction Law
Berkeley Law

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Intimate Politics: How I Grew Up Red, Fought for Free Speech, and Became a Feminist Rebel
Bettina Aptheker  
Emeryville: Seal Press, 2006

That Bettina Aptheker would become a leading force in the free speech movement seems to have been hard-wired into her DNA. The child of stalwart members of the Communist Party (dad was historian Herbert Aptheker, the Communist Party’s so-called “leading theoretician”), Bettina grew up in a large intellectual community of artists and progressives which included such luminaries as W.E.B. Dubois and Paul Robeson. By the time Bettina arrived at Cal, she was a seasoned activist having already organized protests against her high school’s civil defense drills. Intimate Politics is at once a deeply personal and political portrait of a lifetime activist that details her family, her journey to come out as a lesbian, her exploration of spiritualty, and a shocking revelation of sexual abuse.

Gender & Women’s Studies Librarian
Education Library

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Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches
Audre Lorde
Trumansburg, NY: Crossing Press, 1984

As the title suggests, this book anthologizes some of Lorde's most frequently cited essays and speeches including “Poetry is Not a Luxury” and “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House.” One thing that makes this book appropriate for the “free speech” theme is that Lorde doesn’t pull any punches in her writing—she writes powerful critiques of sexism, racism, the power of the erotic, and capitalism. Her critiques remain resonant today, in part because her writing is so powerful, and in part because she wrote frankly about unpopular topics and woke up many people and movements to the complexities of oppression. She also spends some time directly addressing the importance of language and speech for those who have been silenced by oppression.

Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza
Gloria Anzaldúa
San Francisco: Aunt Lute, 1987

Like Lorde, Anzaldúa directly addresses questions of being silenced, forgotten, marginalized by racism, homophobia, and sexism. And like Lorde, she pays attention to the importance of language, writing, and speech for those so marginalized.

Gender & Women’s Studies

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Uninhibited, Robust, and Wide Open: A Free Press for a New Century
Lee C. Bollinger
New York: Oxford University Press, 2010

Bollinger’s book focuses on a major issue in America and the world: the troubled history of a free press. It leads and urges the reader to explore and analyze the meaning of freedom of the press in our globalized, internet-dominated era, which the author recognizes as an uncharted territory. The clear and unquestioned message entails the reality that we must maintain our commitment to a press that is “uninhibited, robust and wide-open.”

UC Berkeley

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I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
Malala Yousafzai
New York: Little, Brown, & Company, 2013

While the basic story is spelled out in its title, there’s much to be learned from this memoir written by 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai (with help from Christine Lamb). It’s an insightful, moving, harrowing, and sometimes even humorous account of life as a Muslim girl in Northern Pakistan. It certainly taught me much about the history of the area, and what it must be like to live there. Certain passages have stuck with me since reading it, especially the stories of how the Taliban operated, how it infiltrated the populace. One phrase in particular resonated with me: “We felt like the Taliban saw us as little dolls to control, telling us what to do and how to dress. I thought if God wanted us to be like that He wouldn’t have made us all different.” Not a new sentiment by any means, but a revelation just the same, especially coming from someone living through the unwelcome changes the encroaching Taliban were bringing to her remote corner of Pakistan.

Systems Editor
Berkeley Law Library

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V for Vendetta
Alan Moore & David Lloyd
London: Titan, 1990

I highly recommend this graphic novel, which centers around an overbearing government that effectively deprives its citizens of a number of rights we take for granted (free speech being one of them). Also I’m sure these will make the list, but George Orwell’s 1984 and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 are obvious picks, in my opinion. 

JD Candidate, 2016
Berkeley Law

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Long Walk To Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
Boston: Little, Brown, 1994

Powerful epic biography of the late South African civil rights leader. I first read this book in Italian as a Cal undergraduate studying abroad in Italy. I found it to be so moving that I read it a second time. And a third. A long, uplifting, and often gut-wrenching read that spans Mandela’s childhood tribal roots, early law career, and anti-Apartheid activism leading to his incarceration on Robben Island and eventual release from prison in early 1990. Like The Count of Monte Cristo and Papillon, a true test of the human spirit and determination to be free. A book you won’t want to put down.

Library Assistant III/Receiving Specialist
Spanish/Italian/French/Portuguese/Catalan Collections
Moffitt Library

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There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech: And It’s a Good Thing, Too
Stanley Fish
New York: Oxford University Press, 1994

Fish’s career trajectory received its jump start right here at Berkeley, where he landed his first job as an English professor teaching Milton. Thereafter, he achieved a degree of celebrity during the heady decade or two of “theory,” literary and otherwise. For a time he substituted legal texts, such as judicial opinions, for the traditional literary texts on which he’d cut his teeth. There's No Such Thing as Free Speech is situated roughly mid-career as his focus on law and literature began to broaden, his target expanding to encompass the business of academia, the professions, and politics. He routinely aggravates his readers with wild pronouncements (e.g., the title of this book’s collection of articles) . . . and it’s a good thing, too. The aggravation often provokes the reader to try to identify precisely where or how Fish's arguments—about speech, theory, judging, liberalism, Volvos—err.

Director, Reference & Research Services
Berkeley Law Library



And now for something completely different…

An Enemy of the People
Henrik Ibsen

Ludwig van Beethoven
(many versions available)

The Death of Socrates
J-L. David

“Die Gedanken Sind Frei”

Before there were books, there were theater, music, and art. Here are a play, an opera, a painting, and a song whose artists engage free speech, what it’s like not to have it, and what it can cost to protect it, by speaking freely, directly to us, and not always with words.

Professor of Public Policy
Goldman School of Public Policy

Michael O’Hare studies environmental policy, arts and cultural policy, and public management, and blogs at www.samefacts.com.

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