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The 60's Communes: Hippies and Beyond (Syracuse Studies on Peace and Conflict Resolution) Hardcover – December, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

As a historian of both the counterculture and non-mainline spirituality, Miller (religious studies, Univ. of Kansas; The Hippies and American Values) has a properly broad perspective from which to view U.S. communalism. In this sequel to The Quest for Utopia in 20th-Century America (Syracuse Univ., 1998), he examines the communes' brief zenith. But while Miller's surveying skills are, indeed, considerable--his appendixes identify 1600-plus communes extant in 1960-75--the body of his text occasionally reads like an annotated list of historic sites. He mentions each site at least once but reveals little that is new. Communes were places where sexual openness and drug use were rampant but not all-pervading, he (unsurprisingly) finds. What is surprising is that he mentions neither the Quakers of Pendle Hill nor Scott and Helen Nearing, the most prominent of the back-to-nature advocates. And he gives communal dwellers excessive credit for spreading an environmental ethos and appetite for whole foods--phenomena that are surely the legacy, more generally, of a wide range of events of the 1960s. The book's most interesting sections deal with the Jesus Freak phenomenon and young Christians' experiments with intentional community. On balance, however, Miller has done a great service: there are precious few scholarly treatments of the movement--nearly all the existing material on 1960s communalism was published before 1975. An important acquisition; recommended for academic and theological libraries.
-Scott H. Silverman, Bryn Mawr Coll. Lib., PA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Timothy Miller is a professor of religious studies at the University of Kansas. He has published two earlier books on intentional communities, including The Quest for Utopia in Twentieth-Century America (also published by Syracuse University Press) to which this new volume is a successor. He co-directed the 60s Communes Project, an extensive documentation effort that preserved memories and artifacts from the 1960s-era communes. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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Product Details

  • Series: Syracuse Studies on Peace and Conflict Resolution
  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Syracuse University Press (December 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815628110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815628118
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,883,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Pam Hanna on April 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you've ever lived on a commune or if you're interested in studying intentional communities from roughly 1967 to 1975, this book is a page turner.
Having lived through the '60s era and having participated in the communal scene, I often find myself irritated by inaccurate reporting by authors who only seem interested in sensationalism (such as Robert Houriet's *Getting Back Together*, 1971), but Timothy Miller does his homework carefully, and I don't find such inaccuracies or biases in his work.
*The 60s Communes: Hippies and Beyond* is not a glib dismissal of a blip on the screen of American community. Miller makes it clear that this is an ongoing phenomenon. Many of these communities still exist (such as The Farm in Tennessee) even though many have gone through countless evolutions and restructuring.
Miller compares land and food arrangements, architecture, parenting, and social interaction of diverse communities across this country along with their philosophies, ideologies and spiritual perspectives. He doesn't unrealistically romanticize and neither does he condemn. He just tells it like it is--and was. And he bakes it into a cake.
The book illustrates the profound effect that these communities have had on our society. It doesn't pretend to include in-depth personal reminiscences or ideological transformations (such as those chronicled in Peter Coyote's excellent *Sleeping Where I Fall*), but it brings all elements together in an informative Big Picture of what was, what is, and what may follow from this movement. While the communes of the American past were primarily arks, says Miller, those of the 60s were lighthouses. I agree. This is one good read. I recommend it.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jedidiah Carosaari VINE VOICE on June 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
I grew up in a Jesus Freak commune, the Highway Missionaries, one of five communes I've lived in my life. The first commune I was born into, Jesus People Milwaukee, is actually mentioned (though not by name) as the precursor of Jesus People USA, JePUSA, in this book. So I came into this book with a high degree of interest, hoping to see something familiar, and learn new insights into myself, and how we were.
I was not disappointed. This is a top-notch book, well-written, scrupulously researched, sociological and anthropological, a wealth of information. Miller's primary purpose is to look at 60's communes in general, of which he says the Jesus People were perhaps the largest single contingent, but still a minority overall. The book not only mentions many different groups, giving a brief blurb on them, but ties them together in genuine scholarly treatment, so that we learn how the different aspects of various groups fit in an overall framework.
Miller's treatment of daily life in community and children from communes was very on-target, as was his look at the eventual dissolution of the communal movement, and what happened to the millions involved in it afterward. This is not an easy topic, as there was a wide variety of communes: Jesus People, environmental, anarchist, LSD, Sufi, Jewish , Hindu, Krishna, and middle-class communes, to name a few. Yet he is able to combine all these diverse elements into an overall thesis, while still treating each type unique. He makes a strong point that many communes are not covered in his treatment, and of the 1000's that existed in this time period, many don't even have any written record any longer.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on January 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
Timothy Miller wrote a great history of earlier utopian communities (The Quest for Utopia in Twentieth-Century America: 1900-1960), and has also written about 1960s issues (e.g., The Hippies and American Values); in this 1999 book he extends his survey of utopian communities into the era from 1960-1975 (with a brief appendix on "Communal Life after 1975").

He covers this in thematically-arranged chapters, such as "The Roots of 1960s-Era Communes," "The New Communes Emerge: 1960-1965," "Out of the Haight and Back to the Land," "Religious and Spiritual Communes," "Communal Ideologies, Economics, and Organization," "Daily Life in the Communes," etc.

He included in his survey only communities that had (1) a sense of common purpose and of separation; (2) some form of self-denial, (3) Geographic proximity, (4) Personal interaction, (5) Economic sharing, (6) real existence, and (7) critical mass [i.e., more than just a few people]. He covers many different communities, including Tolstoy Farm; Drop City; Morning Star; Twin Oaks; Sunrise Hill; Koinonia Farms; Twelve Tribes; Kerista; Harrad West; Stelle, and many others.

Miller's comments are incisive, as well: "Woodstock directly inspired several communes founded soon afterwards"; "But extensive anecdotal evidence makes it clear that almost all communes were very largely white places"; "The lesbian communes made the larger, earlier mark, with most gay male settlements coming after 1975," etc.
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