Though I certainly appreciate this thoughtful and largely positive review, Daniel Fisher makes a false assumption that needs clarification on my part. He writes that " Abidor’s perspective on May ’68 seems to have limited the potential for greater depth and breadth in this oral history." Fisher gets things precisely backwards and fails to take an aspect of oral history into account: what happens when the oral historian has his point of view changed by those he interviews? When I began my interviews I viewed things as positively as I had I had in May 68: it was the turning point in my political life. It was the participants I interviewed who forced me to shed my illusions. It wasn't me, it was Prisca Bachelet, who was everywhere during the months of May and June, who said that the students dropped the ball. It was Alain Krivine who spoke of students and workers failing to unite, of the students' starry-eyed vision of the working class. I thought none of this before, so if my questions appear to Gisher to rend in a certain direction it was because I was led there by my interview subjects. And of course, every interview had to be edited down for space so i wouldn't exceed the word limit I was contractually bound by with Pluto Press, the principal publisher. Sadly, much good material was lost in the process. I regret this and probably should have mentioned it in the intro.
Not a single person I interviewed regretted their participation, and all save one were still politically active. All spoke of how May changed their lives, and I communicated that excitement in my transcriptions. However unillusioned the interviewees were, their point of view was still a positive one. They simply recognize that things didn't end well.
Fisher is dead wrong when he says i failed to critique the leadership system in place in May: it appears in several interviews. That I don't share the affection for horizontalism of today's young leftists is entirely true; I won't apologize for it.
So if Texier, Barbe and Vauselle's opinions match mine, it's because they convinced me they were right. Read the interview with them: I question their role as Communists in May rather bluntly. Their response and the other interviews and my research convinced me that my preconceptions about the PCF were wrong. Speaking well of the PCF is anathema to most leftists, as it was to almost all of those I interviewed. But those who were Communists then made a good case, and though I was predisposed against it they won me over.
So Fisher is wrong: I didn't come in with a preconception that led me to guide my interviews in a negative - actually a gray - direction. It was those who lived May who convinced me my rosey picture was wrong. Was their point of view tinged by fifty years of failures post-may? Absolutely. My characterization of May as "the end of the revolutionary illusion" does not please those who still live by it. I don't expect it to. I make my case in the introduction and in my other writings on May. Reality and history back me on this.
Again, Daniel Clarkson Fisher has written a thoughtful, largely fair review, and i appreciate his dissent. This was a book I loved working on and one i hope will be reissues for the 60th, 70th, and 75th anniversaries of the events, long after I'm gone. Perhaps by then I'll have been proved wrong about the revolutionary illusion. Perhaps not.