putting a human face on complex social issues
Book cover Front Lines of Social Change: Veteranws of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade the elederly vets marching against the firest gulf war
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"The only thing that gives any purpose to life is to move humankind along to a better world, the struggle to eliminate homelessness, hunger, disease, and most of all, to eliminate the greatest insanity, war. That is the 'good fight.'" Milt Wolff Commander of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade

The Front Lines of Social Change:
Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade

An ode to political activism,
an antidote to cynicism

a book of photographs and text
by Richard Bermack

"Elderly faces lit up with eager smiles and dancing eyes fill the pages of Berkeley photographer Richard Bermack's new picture book on the idealistic and idealized volunteer soldiers who fought fascism in Spain in the 1930s . . . . Here are men and women in their 70s and 80s looking as if they're ready to take on the world...." Rick DelVecchio, San Francisco Chronicle, February 25, 2005

"heartbreaking yet energizing" A.K. Crump, Rangefinder Magazine, August 2005

"it is a superb oral history. . .. Whoever has met these folks in later years (years that extend through my own political lifetime) will likely shed a silent tear while leafing through these pages. With them, a generation passes. But thanks to Richard Bermack, they did not pass unseen or unheard." Paul Buhle, Monthly Review Zine, August 29, 2005

"There have been many books written about the Spanish Civil War and more particularly about those genuine American heroes who fought on the Loyalist side in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, but none of them have been as pictorially eye-catching as this work by photographer Richard Bermack..."
Henry Foner, The Unionist, Social Service Employees Union, Local 371 DC 37, AFSCME.

"Their stories recharged me to believe it’s not a waste of time to keep fighting for those important issues that are worth fighting for..."
Virginia King, Berkeley

In 1936 the newly formed democratic republic of Spain was invaded by the fascist army of General Franco, supported by Hitler and Mussolini. While the other European governments stood by, 40,000 people from all over the world went to Spain to fight the spread of fascism. The three thousand Americans who joined the internationals became known as the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

Although they were defeated in Spain, they never stopped fighting. They were labeled premature anti-fascists by the United States government during World War II and then blacklisted during the McCarthy era.

The Lincoln vets became the legendary shock-troops of the progressive movement. They were active in the civil rights movement, the labor movement, and the nuclear freeze movement. They opposed the VietNam War and U.S. intervention in Central America. In their 80s and 90s, the few remaining vets marched against both gulf wars.

The book is more than the story of the Spanish Civil War vets. It is a tribute to the triumph of the human spirit. In these elderly faces the reader can see the vitality and meaning that come from living a life committed to progressive values and taking a stand for social justice and the rights of others. The photographs are portraits of growing old with style-- and never giving up the good fight.

"I've never been part of a cause that won, but I feel like the richest man in the world," states Lincoln vet Abe Osheroff.

"Activism is the elixir of life," states Milt Wolff.

Front Lines combines photos taken of the vets by Bermack over the last 20 years with archival photos from the Spanish Civil war, demonstrations, and political events.


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