For the most part, The Wind from the East is a critical history of the French left and its numerous sectarian subdivisions during and after the 1960s, with a special emphasis on the student uprising of May 1968 and figures such as Althusser, Badiou, Foucault, Lacan, and Sartre. Prominent themes include the differences between the Soviet, or “Jacobin-Leninist authoritarian political model,” and a seemingly more authentic and revolutionary Maoist leftism. The book also appears to be an attempt to salvage what its author considers the inspiring beliefs and attitudes of the 1960s. The latter disposition is captured in paragraphs such as the following:

The May movement’s uniqueness lay in the challenges it posed to traditional forms of political struggle. . . . The May revolt corresponded to a new, multivalent political dynamic that transcended the Manichaean oppositions of a class-based society. Students and...

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