Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Counterpoint
  • Reprint : April 14, 2015
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 400 pages
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1619025608
  • Customer Reviews: 4.4 out of 5 stars ~ 107 ratings

Ralph Magazine Mid-Fall 1998, review
Salon Magazine 4/17/98, review

San Francisco Examiner 4/19/98, interview
NPR:Fresh Air 4/28/98, interview via transcript
San Jose Mercury News, 5/24/98, review

Los Angeles Times 6/4/98, interview
Omnibus review
New Age Journal July/August issue, interview
Houston Chronicle 7/5/98 review 7/21/98 interview
Shambhala Sun November issue, interview
Page One newsletter 2/99, interview
La Pagina 3/14/99, review

Out of the Sixties counterculture explosion came a radical street group called the Diggers who became the heart and soul of the Haight-Ashbury experience. Among its founders was Peter Coyote who has taken his memoirs of this anarchic and psychedelic era and woven them into a collection of stories from his life in San Francisco to communes and gypsy years on the road becoming part of the Free Family. It was during this time that Coyote developed his political consciousness continuing to define and refine it through the years.

Named after a group of 17th century free-thinkers in England, the Diggers dedicated themselves to building a new morality in place of the money-hungry capitalistic society, cutting through the cultural propaganda via the medium of both street theater and “free” programs. They began to distribute free food, provide free medical care and sponsor free rock concerts in Golden Gate Park featuring musicians like the Grateful Dead. They burned money, left its ashes and set out to create the condition they described.

We imagined a world in which we could live authentically, without the pressures of economics dictating all personal choices. We made it real by acting it out.” – Peter Coyote

Sleeping Where I Fall describes the stories behind that pursuit of absolute freedom, stories which are not only entertaining but a testament to the human spirit and the dreams of that generation and the groundwork it laid for the future. As a storyteller of countless tales with a cast of characters that often seem more fictional than true, Coyote also recounts his friendship with fellow edge dweller Emmett Grogan, who in 1972 wrote his own memoirs in Ringolevio.

Coyote has already received recognition for his writing having won the prestigious Pushcart Prize for Carla’s Story, which was published in the ’93-’94 Pushcart Anthology, a collection of short stories, essays and poetry often referred to as the “best of the small presses.” Though no longer a separate chapter, the story of Coyote’s relationship with Carla can still be found in his book.


“Sleeping Where I Fall is the eloquent record of Peter Coyote’s personal journey through a fascinating period in American history. Beyond his personal story, Coyote documents that time and its participants as few others have.” —San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner

“Sleeping Where I Fall chronicles with uncommon honesty a chaotic social movement that aimed to radically reform American society . . . the tales that make the final cut in Coyote’s memoir are skillfully rendered, mixing hilarity and tragedy.” —Los Angeles Times

“No less than the social experiments it documents, Sleeping Where I Fall is an honest contribution to the exercise in freedom that Americans call their ‘lifestyle.'” —Village Voice

“Peter Coyote’s shrewdly observant, cogently analytic and earthily detailed memoir of his years within the counterculture opens a door in 1998 and walks through it into the 1960s . . . Coyote reflects with maturity on the mistakes he and his peers made, but he affirms that the dream was worth having.” —Washington Post

“Coyote not only survived the excesses of the Sixties and Seventies but emerged from years of journeying through the counterculture to achieve success as an actor. Considering the numerous casualties among radicals, who, like Coyote, were heroin junkies living on the edge of society, this is a rare feat. In this frank yet sensitive memoir of those years, Coyote contradicts romantic notions of communes by recalling the discord and petty disagreements typical in his own communal living experiences at Olema ranch and Red House. He describes the chaos created by the Diggers, an antiestablishment group of which he is usually considered a founding member and leader, famous for their stores where everything was given away free, and he remembers his stoned life in Haight-Ashbury. Eventually, he surfaced to work with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, for which he received a special Obie Award. Coyote’s thoughtful, articulate writing displays a compassionate wisdom that puts this chronicle in a class above the typical actor’s autobiography. Highly recommended for relevent subject collections in academic as well as public libraries.” Library Journal

“Film actor Peter Coyote recounts his exploits in the 1960s and ’70s in this literate insider’s account of the San Francisco/Northern California hippie scene. As a member of the San Francisco Mime Troupe and, later, the Diggers, Coyote (the name is totemic) was at the center of the action and a witness to many of the era’s countercultural events. He colors the historical perspective of those events with highly personal memories of his life on the road and in various urban and rural communes. He also resurrects long-dead ghosts: Emmett Grogan, Janis Joplin, John Lennon, poet Lew Welch, not to mention the idealism that propelled the whole movement. While avoiding the pitfalls of nostalgia, Coyote reflects on the serendipity of his own life, from upper-middle-class upbringing to heavy drug-user to Wall Street broker to chairman of the California Arts Council to respected and sought-after film actor. He is at once contented and optimistic, and occasionally apologetic; the zeitgeist that informed Coyote 30 years ago has not abandoned him.” Booklist

“Actor Coyote’s articulate, thoroughly absorbing chronicle of his life in the 1960s and ’70s portrays a pioneering communard who is highly aware of the interdependence of all life. Describing his pilgrim’s progress from the San Francisco Mime Troupe to founding the utopian group, the Diggers and its offshoot, the Free Family, Coyote emerges as a man inextricably connected to others.” Publisher’s Weekly

“Peter has recreated a tableau of some of the most Felliniesque characters ever to grace the pages of a nonfiction work. What works here is the utter lack of varnish, for this is neither a defense nor an apologia for the 1960s. It is a description of Peter’s odyssey through some of the important players and communities that flared briefly and then burnt out. By pulling back the curtain on the stage, wings, and dressing room of the sixties, with the sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll intact, he reveals a world without a trace of glamour. This is the world that Tom Wolf and Joan Didion only glimpsed and interviewed, the one George Leonard skirted. Were flowers placed in gun barrels at the Pentagon? For sure. But guns were also placed next to people’s temples and fired. It is as if an entire urban village became a nonstop Commedia Del Arte for several years, until the sheer intensity destroyed or scattered all but the hardiest. Not until the laughter died off were the bodies counted. This is not the hero’s journey. Having read it, no one will pine to have been in his shoes, on his chopper, or in his body. This is the survivor’s tale. Peter’s opportunism is not hidden. His hustling gift of the gab got him into the worst and “best” of the sixties. He uses the same gift to take the reader back.” Paul Hawken, Whole Earth Catalog:

“Peter Coyote has already made a name for himself as a film actor, political activist and narrator. Now comes his best and most challenging narrative of all – his own story based on the years when he was part of the Sixties counterculture explosion as one of the founders of a radical street group called the Diggers. Peter has taken his memoirs of this anarchic and psychedelic era and woven them into a collection of stories from his life in San Francisco to communes and gypsy years on the road as part of the Free Family. Says Coyote, “We imagined a world in which we could live authentically, without the pressures of economics dictating all personal choices. We made it real by acting it out.” Coymoon