Barry Sheppard's
The Party
The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988
A Political Memoir

Volume 1: The Sixties


Review by Richard Winger

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This review appeared in the e-zine Ballot Access News, Volume 21, Number 4, August 5, 2005.


By Richard Winger

Volume One covers the period 1960-1973. Volume Two is not yet published. The book is a political memoir of Barry Sheppard, who was a student at MIT in 1958, where he became friends with Peter Camejo, also a student at MIT. They joined the Socialist Workers Party at the same meeting in 1959. Sheppard became the party's acting National Secretary in 1971, and Camejo became the party's presidential candidate in 1976. Sheppard represented the party to Trotskyist groups around the world, and lived in Paris for several years doing political work.

Anyone who is interested in political activism, or the history of the 1960's and early 1970's, will enjoy this book. Sheppard writes very well, and I found it hard to put the book down until I was finished. The Socialist Workers Party was a small party, but it was very effective in organizing mass protests against U.S. policy in Vietnam. It also had significant interactions with Malcolm X, who spoke at SWP meetings. The book also deals with President Kennedy's assassination, and Fidel Castro's rise to power.

The Socialist Workers Party has been active in fighting restrictive ballot access laws ever since 1969. It formed CoDEL, the Committee for Democratic Election laws, in 1970, but CoDEL only lasted seven years. The U.S. Supreme Court heard five of the party's election law cases (in 1971, 1974, 1979, 1982 and 1986). No other minor party has had this many cases heard in the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, Volume One doesn't cover this struggle.


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