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A Generation Divided: The New Left, the New Right, and the 1960s [Paperback]

by Rebecca E. Klatch
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 20, 1999 0520217144 978-0520217140 0
The 1960s was not just an era of civil rights, anti-war protest, women's liberation, hippies, marijuana, and rock festivals. The untold story of the 1960s is in fact about the New Right. For young conservatives the decade was about Barry Goldwater, Ayn Rand, an important war in the fight against communism, and Young Americans for Freedom (YAF). In A Generation Divided, Rebecca Klatch examines the generation that came into political consciousness during the 1960s, telling the story of both the New Right and the New Left, and including the voices of women as well as men. The result is a riveting narrative of an extraordinary decade, of how politics became central to the identities of a generation of people, and how changes in the political landscape of the 1980s and 1990s affected this identity.

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

paper 0-520-21714-4 A thoughtful study of some forgotten players in the Time of Torment: the young ideologues of the dawning radical right. Radical, sociologist Klatch (Univ. of Calif., San Diego) observes, is the operative word. The young men (and a few women) who made up the conservative Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), a group inspired by Barry Goldwaters 1964 bid for the presidency, were the children of privilege; in this respect they mirrored their counterparts on the left, the young members of Students for a Democratic Society. But rather than preserve the Republican status quo, they broke from the politics of their elders at many critical junctures. Notable among them, in the later 1960s, was YAFs growing criticism of the Vietnam War and especially of military conscription, which they believed violated the most fundamental principle of individual liberty. When their older conservative peers demanded that they endorse the Republican commitment to military victory in Vietnam, many of the YAFs members shifted to a libertarian, even anarchist position. In doing so, they found, they had more in common with the extreme elements of the left than they did with the likes of William F. Buckley, Jr. and Richard M. Nixon. Whereas, when the war finally ended, many leftists entered academic or professional careers, continuing the fight for social justice by becoming child psychologists, family-practice physicians, or teachers, the young radical rightists took their fight straight into the political realm. Some of them, Klatch writes, scored great successes by organizing the state-by-state movement that defeated the Equal Rights Amendment. Others went to Washington-area think tanks, where they orchestrated the so-called Republican Revolution of 1994. And a surprising number of them, Klatch notes, went into journalism, putting the lie to the charge that the press is a liberal conspiracy. Solid research and good writing make this a book of interest to veterans of the 60s, as well as to students of social science and history. (38 b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A remarkable book. . . . Many histories of SDS [Students for a Democratic Society] have been written, and lately there have been several volumes about YAF [Young Americans for Freedom] as well. Klatch is one of the few scholars to look at both. The result is a study that is complex, textured, and three-dimensional."--"Reason

Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (October 20, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520217144
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520217140
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #974,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Putting the 60s in Focus December 11, 1999
Rebecca Klatch brings an important and interesting perspective to the 1960s by comparing and contrasting YAF and SDS members (both rank and file members and leaders) and tracing their personal histories up through the late 1990s. Although she has a small sample size (less than 40 members of each group)and then subdivides them again(into PLP and Weathermen, libertarians and traditionalists) she provides insight into commonalities and differences within the groups on the counterculture, feminism, individualism,and the centrality of political action. This is an informative analysis of the development of young political activists (their background and motivation for activism) and the changes which occur in their lives as they reach late middle age.
Like many historians of the 60s, Klatch carries with her personal involvement in student left political activities but says "I have tried to set aside my own assumptions in listening to the stories of the activists on all sides." This she has successfully accomplished, much as she did in her earlier work,"Women of the New Right." For the most part, she lets her subjects speak for themselves while adding valuable perspective and context.
The left's history has been written by Hayden, Flacks, Gitlin and other activists from that era. As Klatch observes, however, "the untold story of the 1960s is about the New Right," a story that is now slowly seeping out in the works of John Andrew "The Other Side of the Sixties" and Mary Brennan "Turning Right in the Sixties.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A good overview of the differences between SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), YAK (Young Americans for Freedom) in both sociology and political view. It clarifies the differences in YAK with the Traditionalists and Libertarians, the difference between the early SDS and the later with it's splintering from various division in feminism and other areas into the Progressive Labor Party of Maoists and the revolutionary violence of the Weatherman and sadly, it's ultimate demise.

I found this book excellent in defining some of the differences of political opinion from the left and libertarians, the 60's counterculture and its heavy influence on almost all with the exception of the traditionalists.

This book also brings to light the aftermath and current politics from the influence of these very important movements, including the political ideals of YAKers and SDSers today, an essential link into understanding.
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