A Matter of Opinion by Victor S. Navasky
Even if this memoir tells only part of the story—as is clearly the case—Victor S. Navasky, who was born in 1932, is certainly among the most cheerful men in the world and may just be the most satisfied. Although the book mainly focuses on Navasky’s experience since 1978 as the editor, and more recently the publisher, of the Nation, America’s foremost leftist journal, both his understanding of the world and his complete comfort with that understanding seem to have been fixed in him from the time of his childhood and youth at the Little Red School House and Elizabeth Irwin High School, the linked private schools in New York City that from their founding were dedicated to left-wing politics and culture.
Some former students at these schools have moved well beyond their influence. But among Navasky’s most pleasantly unshakable memories, he tells us, are such transfiguring experiences as listening in elementary school to the songs of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie and singing “the anti-fascist songs of the International Brigade in Spain.” Without necessarily knowing its name, he and his classmates were being inducted into the ideas and prescriptions of the Soviet-organized Popular Front of the mid-1930’s, one of whose most memorable slogans was “Communism is 20th-century Americanism.”
About the Author
Nell Rosenthal is a freelance writer in New York.