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The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America Paperback – June 1, 2001


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The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America + The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia + Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books (June 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1893554309
  • ISBN-13: 978-1893554306
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #874,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The 1960s, writes Roger Kimball, "has become less the name of a decade than a provocation." This incisive critique of that turbulent time won't calm the debate. The Long March will enthrall conservatives who think of themselves as culture warriors and infuriate liberals who still celebrate "the purple decade." Kimball, managing editor of the New Criterion and author of Tenured Radicals, is one of the Right's most articulate writers. He argues forcefully that the pernicious influence of the 1960s can still be felt: "The success of America's recent cultural revolution can be measured not in toppled governments but in shattered values. If we often forget what great changes this revolution brought in its wake, that, too, is a sign of its success: having changed ourselves, we no longer perceive the extent of our transformation."

The Long March proceeds as a series of stimulating essays on important cultural figures and movements, beginning with the Beats. Norman Mailer comes in for an eloquent trashing ("From the late 1940s until the 1980s, he showed himself to be extraordinarily deft at persuading credulous intellectuals to collaborate in his megalomania"), as do any number of counterculture icons. I.F. Stone's articles, writes Kimball, "read like neo-Stalinist equivalents of those multipart articles on staple crops with which The New Yorker used to anesthetize its readers." And of The New York Review of Books, that bastion of elite liberal opinion, Kimball says: "Quite apart from the irresponsibility of the politics, there was an intellectual irresponsibility at work here, a preening, ineradicable frivolousness toward the cultural values that the journal was supposedly created to nurture." There's a distinctly conservative crankiness to Kimball's writing; the jazz of Miles Davis is inevitably "drug-inspired" and rock music "was not only an aesthetic disaster of gigantic proportions: it was also a moral disaster whose effects are nearly impossible to calculate precisely because they are so pervasive." Yet this inclination can lead to fascinating, if arguable, insights about modern American culture: "Everywhere one looks one sees the elevation of youth--that is to say, of immaturity--over experience. It may seem like a small thing that nearly everyone of whatever age dresses in blue jeans now; but the universalization of that sartorial badge of the counterculture speaks volumes."

Kimball's writing is at once highbrow and accessible. Fans of Robert Bork's Slouching Towards Gomorrah and Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind--or readers who have never quite believed all the English professors proclaiming Allen Ginsberg a poetic genius--will find The Long March engrossing and indispensable. --John J. Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Despite naming his book after Mao's protracted war against Chiang Kai-shek, Kimball spends less time demonstrating that '60s radicalism won its long march and became turn-of-the-millennium orthodoxy than he does denouncing the usual suspects. His targets--the Beats, Norman Mailer, Susan Sontag, liberal university presidents, the Berrigan brothers, Norman O. Brown, Timothy Leary, Eldridge Cleaver, the New York Review of Books, etc.--are relatively easy, for they were often contradictory and illogical. Recalling just how outrageous they were is a sobering corrective to '60s nostalgia. But Kimball also scores his betes noires for sexual misbehavior, which for him means anything except conjugal rights. This obsession leads him to rope the bisexual Paul Goodman into his rogues' gallery, even though Goodman disagreed with nearly all the others. Goodman did, however, place sex at the center of his social and psychological thought. That Kimball can't abide, at some cost to the cogency of his rebuttal of David Allyn's Make Love, Not War , and other wistful backward glances. Ray Olson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 60 people found the following review helpful By J. Lizzi on January 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I'm old enough to remember a little of what went on politically and culturally in the 1960's, but too young to be conversant when it comes to the noted writers, activists and others who set the tone for the "revolution" that took place toward the end of the postwar baby boom. To me, "The Long March" served as a great documentary introduction to this time period that changed the social agenda for many.
Roger Kimball is a conservative who can't stand the influence of the 1960's (actually, the late 50's through the early 70's) in creating what he calls the "liberal establishment" that evolved from that era. His book is a superbly written (and yes, conservatively biased) account of the progression of thought and activism through a little more than a decade, spurred on by a group of influential artists and "avant-garde" intellectuals of the time. The author focuses primarily on the literary aspects of 60's radicalism, with a wealth of commentary on works by authors/poets such as Norman Mailer, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Susan Sontag, Timothy Leary and Eldridge Cleaver. In addition, Mr. Kimball chronicles the activism involving the Black Panthers and the student revolts at Berkeley, Cornell and Yale Universities.
Most of Mr. Kimball's efforts are aimed at trashing quotes (literary or otherwise) by every guru that happened to hold sway over the 60's youth and associated political/social "counterculture." I must say, he does a good job of it. He possesses a wonderful way of taking what at the time were much revered literature and speechmaking, and turning them into the most inane, irresponsible drivel one has ever read or heard.
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86 of 98 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Hartmann on June 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Now I know why our schools, colleges, and moral society are in decay. Roger Kimball's The Long March is a tour de force of the factors responsible for this decline. He pieces together the disparate personalities who were deified at the time as purveyors of a new kind of freedom--freedom without responsibility. What they wrought was a society without standards. "Anything Goes" is their motto but woe to the person who questions the results of this kind of lifestyle. Kimball documents their demand for tolerance of all kinds of malordorous behavior yet they are completely intolerant of any criticism. The results are evident throughout our culture. No other book has shown the sources of this decline with such wit and intelligence. The Long March is essential reading for anyone who cares about preserving American culture.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Bernard Chapin on December 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
In my entire life, this is the only book that I've read three times. Upon each perusal it becomes more endearing. The Long March is the most powerful indict of the 1960s and the counterculture that has ever been written. More than any other publication, it is capable of convincing moderates of the need to CONSERVE America and our western tradition as well. Although, I am politically of the same bend as Mr. Kimball, I must admit that this book was not a simple sermon to the parishioners. In my youth, I idolized the beat poets but only knew the true story of their lives after reading his second chapter. The same is true of Marcuse, whose Eros and Civilization along with One-Dimensional Man I devoured and appreciated years ago.

The Long March depicts the full story of the way in which our society was softened up by the likes of Brown, Reich, and Goodman to allow it to blossom into the permanent immaturity of the sixties. An immaturity and a selfishness that still binds us. The pseudo-compassionate hippies brought us multiculturalism and political correctness and currently are the cause of 18 year olds mortgaging their futures by borrowing fortunes in exchange for a Philistine's college education.

As a cultural commentator, Kimball is resolute, spirited, witty, and as observant as an eagle peering down from Mount Rushmore. This is, quite simply, the finest and most important work whose spine I ever cracked.
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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful By John N. Frary on July 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Roger Kimball has squelched through the reeking, gummy, sunless swamps of Sixties Thought so that those of us with less patience and fortitude might be spared the effort. I remember encountering most of these superannuated juvenile delinquent windbags, ranting, panting, prose- killing German professors and other long-marchers in my youth. Although it seemed both impossible and pointless to read any of them through to the end, I have read enough to assert with confidence that Kimball presents his readers with an accurate account of their works. In doing this he has performed a valuable service, and performed it with clarity, precision, and wit.
Never mind that the scribblings of these critters have long since lost their vogue. This book makes clear the source of the ideas which have filled the vacuum caused by the utter collapse of 1950s liberalism and it also sheds light on the confusion and fatuity of the American Intellectual Establishment. This Establishment now finds it convenient to shrug off Kimball's subjects as mere period figures while avoiding any explanation of their previous celebrity. How, for example, to explain the New Yorker's series on Charles Reich's The Greening of America?-a work with less durability, rationality, or merit than bell-bottom jeans. Yet, they were all celebrated for a space and the curious can confirm this with very little research.
Kimball's conviction that American society is like a rudderless ship largely as a consequence of the cultural nihilism championed by the long-marchers forms the context of his work. Those of us enjoying the country's present prosperity and international predominance (and I admit to being a beneficiary) should give some thought to the simile. A rudderless ship may be surging with power, free of leaks, and loaded with fully functioning mechanical amenities, but it faces a problematic future.
In the meantime the ship's band is a pain in the ear.
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