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Framing the Sixties: The Use and Abuse of a Decade from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush Paperback – January 5, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press (January 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558497323
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558497320
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #803,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Framing the Sixties is a smart, important and impressively researched account of the decade that far too often is reduced to clichés by the left and the right. This book will be invaluable to anyone eager to know the real story behind the political and cultural consequences of that tumultuous time.

(Tom Brokaw, author of Boom! Talking About the Sixties)

This fine book illustrates the truth of the maxim that history is what the present wants to know about the past. To understand why the meaning of the 1960s remains a critical matter for both conservatives and liberals, Bernard von Bothmer's careful study is the place to start.

(Michael Kazin, co-author, America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s)

No decade of recent U.S. history has been mythologized like the Sixties. Historian Bernard von Bothmer has done a marvelous job of setting the historical record straight in Framing the Sixties. Instead of relying on staid orthodoxy von Bothmer analyzes the spin factor irresponsibly promulgated by both right and left. A truly important and essential study.

(Douglas Brinkley, author of Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War)

The Sixties: Ronald Reagan cherry-picked what he wanted and used the rest as a reason to oppose government; George H. W. Bush condensed them into the 'Vietnam Syndrome' that he used for another war; Bill Clinton ran parallel to the decade for political safety; George W. Bush twisted the Sixties to defeat one of its iconic figures, John Kerry. These framings, richly sourced for us with interviews with high-level Republicans and Democrats and speeches archived in presidential libraries, will be the crown jewel in syllabi for Sixties courses.

(Jerry Lembcke, author of Hanoi Jane: War, Sex, and Fantasies of Betrayal)

This is a smartly written work on the political uses and misuses of history.... An excellent analysis. Essential.

(Choice)

Provides a fine winning account of a decade of U. S. history.... College-level American history collections strong in political and social analysis need this.

(Midwest Book Review)

With the advent of popular 24/7 cable news channels, Americans have become even more addicted to the news than ever before. Depending on one's age, however, one is likely to perceive it in different ways. For the political junky, there is a very interesting look at the 1960s and how it shaped politics.... With a historian's precision the author shows how that decade and the one that followed shaped the nation's political choices.

(Bookviews by Alan Caruba 1900-01-00)

Von Bothmer details numerous overgeneralizations, misstatements of facts, and revised personal biographies as politicians adjust their ideas and past actions to modern political trends.

(Journal of American History)

Sharply argued, provocative, and accessible, Framing the Sixties is destined to find a place on the bookshelves of scholars and in the syllabi of courses dealing with the presidency, public memory, and the 1960s.

(Register of the Kentucky Historical Society)

About the Author

Bernard von Bothmer teaches American history at the University of San Francisco and at Dominican University of California.


More About the Author

Bernard von Bothmer, Ph.D.

Bernard von Bothmer teaches American history at the University of San Francisco, where he received USF's 2010 Distinguished Lecturer Award for Excellence in Teaching, and at Dominican University of California. He was born and raised in New York City and received a B.A. with honors from Brown University, an M.A. from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in American history from Indiana University.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 22 customer reviews
The author's writing style is more novelistic than academic.
O. J. G. Thomas
Framing the Sixties is an interesting and well researched book about a fascinating time in American History.
M. Elizabeth
I am a physics professor who likes to read history in my spare time, and I am delighted with this book.
John M. Beggs

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By MLB on April 10, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Some of today's younger set often tell us, survivors of the Sixties, "You had ideals, you had goals you wanted to see accomplished, you wanted to change things that were unfair and you made your voices heard ! Now, we worry about finding decent schools, jobs and housing, the next pair of designer sunglasses, and making sure we don't get to know our neighbors too well."

Just as one can write remarkably well about the Roman Empire not having lived through it, Professor von Bothmer has written remarkably well about an era he has studied and dissected. He proves that the decade is still very much alive in today's political world and he really explains how and why.

His objective point of view is powerful in that he doesn't try to influence the reader. He states facts and quotes in a highly readable form. While this reviewer will abstain from giving out personal opinions of those turbulent years, I recommend this book to anyone who wants to remember some of the details or understand the influence many of the events had on those who are today's grown-ups.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Christy A. Bohl on March 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
"The Sixties" have been used as cultural shorthand for so long that it is hard to believe this study has not been done before, but perhaps we have been waiting for Bernard von Bothmer to write it. In his first book, the fearless von Bothmer conducted over 120 interviews with academics (Noam Chomsky, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Howard Zinn), political figures (James Baker, Michael Dukakis, Gary Hart), journalists (Ben Bradlee, David Halberstam, Helen Thomas, Bob Woodward), and others (Daniel Ellsberg, Tom Hayden, Phyllis Schlafly) to build this study of how perceptions of the "bad sixties" and the "good sixties" have been used since 1980. _Framing the Sixties_ discusses the varying definitions of what constitutes "the Sixties," then offers three chapters on Reagan, two on George H. W. Bush, two on Clinton, one on George W. Bush, and one on the 2004 campaign between George W. Bush and John Kerry, before concluding with a discussion of how the power of "the Sixties" may be beginning to fade now that the Baby Boomers are making way for leaders from a post-1960s generation. It is surprisingly witty, not from any agenda on von Bothmer's part, but more often by letting the people he interviewed speak for themselves. von Bothmer's work is thoroughly researched, yet clear enough that it could be enjoyed by a general reader with some interest in politics or for use in advanced undergraduate classes.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R. Newton on May 17, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The most significant characteristic of a good book is its ability to make the reader think. Judging by the amount of thinking that Framing The Sixties has encouraged me to do, it must be one heck of a good book. As I grew up in the sixties, I remember feelings that were both good and bad. My family started the decade with a TV that delivered black and white images of JFK inspiring us to public service and a trip to the moon. We ended the decade with color images of the Vietnam war and LSD-touting hippies. For us, the war was bad, but so were the hippies. Going to the moon was good, the fear of Russia beating us was not. Our household sympathized with the civil rights movement but extremist groups and images of the Watts Riots made us fearful. Today, I see the sixties as all good--it was a period that made us who we are.

As von Bothmer reveals, politicians have continually resurrected feelings about the sixties to associate themselves with "good" events while encumbering their opponents with all things "bad". He also shows how partisan accounts of this period diverge from the facts. This book is timely, as the facts of history and science are under increasing attacks. It will make a great gift for my friends and relatives.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Elizabeth on February 20, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Framing the Sixties is an interesting and well researched book about a fascinating time in American History. Von Bothmer explains how the 1960s, like the Civil Ware era, will forever define our Country and how the political landscape of the 60s has shaped current politics and presidential elections. "Indeed both liberals and conservatives agreed that the 1960s gave rise to the two factions that now compete politically" writes von Bothmer. He explains how the ideologies of the 1960s divided many Americans, and how in some ways they have never reunited. Ones learns in this book how the 1960s gave birth to the current Liberal and Conservative movement and why the impact of that decade will not go away.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mortal Man on March 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
As a person who was a teenager during the 60s and who came of draft age at the tail end of the Vietnam war, I found this book to be a very engaging and interesting read. It is not an overly-lengthy volume, but it is detailed and focuses on how the iconic events of that era - the war, civil rights, JFK presidency, Woodstock - were retold by later-arriving politicians who seek to awaken the deep emotional memories of one of the largest segments of today's voting population, the baby boomers.

Despite its compact readability, the book is thoroughly researched and is informed by a long list of direct interviews with some key players from the relevant presidential administrations, media, and historical observers. Professor von Bothmer generally seems to allow the events and interviewees in the book to speak for themselves rather than wanting to push a particular political agenda. Espousing an ideology seems to be a common practice in so many political books these days where the writers have a viewpoint to promote and simply cherry pick out-of-context quotes or anecdotes as supporting evidence for their opinion.

This book is an excellent jumping-off point for conversations about recent history and political machinations. I don't think von Bothmer's premise can really be refuted - but the subjects of his observations certainly can stimulate wild controversy. Interestingly I checked out 2 of his recent radio podcast interviews (they're on the book's website) - one was a liberal interviewer, the other a conservative, and both seemed equally positive and enthusiastic about talking with him, showing how history can be filtered according to our own views. Highly recommended not just for historical value, but for gaining insight into how we are still being manipulated by politicians.
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