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Loeb, Paul Rogat 1952-

LOEB, Paul Rogat 1952-


PERSONAL: Born July 4, 1952, in Berkeley, CA; son of Yosal Rogat (a professor) and Magda (a piano teacher; maiden name, Kosches) Loeb. Education: Attended Stanford University, 1970-72; New School for Social Research (now New School University), B.A., 1973.

ADDRESSES: Home—Seattle, WA. Offıce—3232 41st Ave. SW, Seattle, WA 98116. Agent—Harriet Wasserman Agency, 230 East 48th St., New York, NY 10017. E-mail—[email protected]


CAREER: Liberation, New York, NY, editor and promotion director, 1974-76; Village Gate Jazz Club, New York, NY, bartender, 1977-78; Center for Ethical Leadership, Seattle, WA, associated scholar. Guest lecturer at universities, including Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Missouri, Bucknell University, Catholic University, University of Oregon, and St. Louis University.


MEMBER: Peace and Justice Alliance (board chair).


writings:


Nuclear Culture: Living and Working in the World'sLargest Atomic Complex, Coward (New York, NY), 1982.

Hope in Hard Times: America's Peace Movement and the Reagan Era, Lexington Books (Lexington, MA), 1987.

Generation at the Crossroads: Apathy and Action on the American Campus, Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ), 1994.

Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a CynicalTime, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.


Contributor to periodicals, including Village Voice, Humanist, Crawdaddy, Inquiry, Oui, Mother Earth News, New Age, In These Times, Chicago Reader, New West, Seattle Times, and Los Angeles Herald-Examiner.


SIDELIGHTS: Paul Rogat Loeb has written and lectured extensively on leftist political issues since he was editor of the radical magazine Liberation in the early 1970s. His books include Nuclear Culture, a look at the workers at an American nuclear plant, Generation at the Crossroads: Apathy and Action on the American Campus, a survey of student political activities, and Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time, a manual of hope for disillusioned activists.


Loeb's Nuclear Culture documents the evacuation of 1,500 farmers from Hanford, Washington, in 1943, and subsequent events occurring in the world's largest nuclear complex there. "Hanford nuclear culture is a place where people have abdicated responsibility on the most important questions," Loeb explained to an interviewer from the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. The author discovered that workers in the Hanford complex, which has been producing plutonium since World War II, only vaguely comprehended the personal and public risks working at the plant involves. "They're not thinking about what the consequences of what they're doing are, immediate or long-term," he observed. For the book, Loeb met with Hanford plant employees to discuss their personal reservations and concerns regarding their jobs. "I wanted to simultaneously give them a voice and then separately make my conclusions," he explained.

Loeb's work was hailed for its informative and provocative substance. John P. Sisk, writing in Pacific Northwest, called Nuclear Culture "a well-researched, balanced and skillfully organized piece of journalism; the product of an easy, straight-forward style, an intelligent curiosity, and a good working knowledge of the atomic industry." Sisk added that Loeb "helps us see that the fear of nuclear energy may be less the fear of some ultimate meltdown than the fear of human nature itself."


Reacting to criticism that modern college students are not activists, Loeb set out to study the situation for himself. His tour of some one hundred campuses, and talks with dozens of students, convinced him that there are still students who are politically active. The results of his research have been published as Generation at the Crossroads: Apathy and Action on the American Campus. A reviewer for the Economist believed that what is "most damaging" in Loeb's study "is what's missing: conservative student movements, which have proven at least as popular and successful (and often as misguided) as Mr Loeb's favoured liberal campaigns." Similarly, Jonah Goldberg in Public Interest noted that "for Loeb, 'conservative activist' is, for the most part, an oxymoron. To be an activist requires concern, and concern is apparently a liberal or leftist virtue." William H. Willimon in Christian Century found that, although Loeb "persists in splitting the world between (bad) conservatives and (good) liberals," his study is "a huge effort." But according to Katherine Cramer in her review for the Progressive, "Loeb has written a thorough, nuanced description of the political attitudes and actions of this generation." Sandra Hackman in the Technology Review concluded that "Loeb is to be commended for his insight and thorough research."


In Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time, Loeb again focuses on political activism, this time in the larger society beyond academia. Claiming in particular than many people avoid politics because they have feelings of hopelessness, Loeb argues that activists must take a long view of societal change and not expect sudden results. He offers examples of individuals who took action and eventually triumphed. As Thomas J. Baldino in Library Journal noted, "Loeb's purpose is to inspire his readers to get over their cynicism and get involved." "In his telling," Gary Dorrien stated in the Christian Century, "the left has lost its critical mass not because it was often wrong, but because its partisans have lost heart or lost their way or given in to the cynicism of the dominant culture." Joerg Rieger in Cross Currents praised Soul of a Citizen. "Loeb's book," wrote Rieger, "is full of practical suggestions for how to recapture commitment, vision, and the ability to act. . . . The book reads like a self-help book for activists." "Loeb," wrote Layne Mosler in Sojourners, "does a masterful job of examining the roots of individual disengagement from struggles for change. In addition, he effectively reminds us that we are all accountable for the state of our society."


Loeb once told CA: "Since the Vietnam War I have been highly concerned about the threats posed by concentrations of unchecked power. The danger of atomic war is only the clearest indication that for all its strengths, our society has also acquiesced in much terrible blindness. Nuclear Culture was an attempt to address this blindness by examining the community whose members manufactured the plutonium for Nagasaki and for over half the atomic weapons we now possess. It was an attempt to understand how people of perfectly good will have, step by step, brought us closer to disaster.


Soul of a Citizen focuses on "how ordinary humans are trying to address the unprecedented threats to human life we have helped create. If this resurgent movement succeeds, it will necessarily leave us with a far stronger and healthier society. I [attempt to] . . . document the process by which people are striving for this and, I hope, shed useful light on their efforts."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:


periodicals


Booklist, November 15, 1994, Mary Carroll, review of Generation at the Crossroads: Apathy and Action on the American Campus, p. 562; May 1, 1999, Brian McCombie, review of The Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time, p. 1563.

Christian Century, February 1, 1995, William H. Willimon, review of Generation at the Crossroads, p. 125; November 17, 1999, Gary Dorrien, review of The Soul of a Citizen, p. 1118.

Christian Science Monitor, August 13, 1982.

Congressional Record, October 1, 1982.

Cross Currents, fall, 2000, Joerg Rieger, review of The Soul of a Citizen, p. 420.

Economist, February 11, 1995, review of Generation at the Crossroads, p. 78.

Library Journal, August, 1999, Thomas J. Baldino, review of The Soul of a Citizen, p. 118.

Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, May 19, 1982; July 4, 1982.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, April 18, 1982.

National Catholic Reporter, June 16, 1995, Raymond Schroth, review of Generation at the Crossroads, p. 21.

New Age, October 5, 1982.

Pacific Northwest, June, 1982, John P. Sisk, review of Nuclear Culture.

Progressive, July, 1982; October, 1994, Katherine Cramer, review of Generation at the Crossroads, p. 51.

Public Interest, summer, 1995, Jonah Goldberg, review of Generation at the Crossroads, p. 120.

Publishers Weekly, September 12, 1994, Norman Oder, "Rutgers Book Examines Apathy, Activism of 'Generation X,'" p. 24; September 26, 1994, review of Generation at the Crossroads, p. 46; April 26, 1999, review of The Soul of a Citizen, p. 66.

Sojourners, July, 1999, Layne Mosler, review of Generation at the Crossroads, p. 59.

Technology Review, October, 1996, Sandra Hackman, review of Generation at the Crossroads, p. 70.

Washington Post Book World, July 25, 1982.


online


Soul of a Citizen Web site,http://www.soulofacitizen.org/ (May 27, 2003).*

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