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The Making of an Elder Culture: Reflections on the Future of America's Most Audacious Generation Paperback – September 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

Review

The Summer of Love. Vietnam. Woodstock. These are the milestones of the baby boomer generation Theodore Roszak chronicled in his 1969 breakthrough book The Making of a Counter Culture. Part of an unprecedented longevity revolution, those boomers form the most educated, most socially conscientious, politically savvy older generation the world has ever seen. And they are preparing for Act Two.

The Making of an Elder Culture reminds the boomers of the creative role they once played in our society, and of the moral and intellectual resources they have to draw upon for radical transformation in their later years. Seeing the experience of aging as a revolution in consciousness, it predicts an .elder insurgency. where boomers return to take up what they left undone in their youth. Freed from competitive individualism, military-industrial bravado, and the careerist rat race, who better is there to forge a compassionate economy? Who better positioned not only to demand Social Security and Medicare for themselves, but to champion .Entitlements for Everyone.? Fusing the green, the gray and the just, Eldertown can be an achievable, truly sustainable future.

Part demographic study, part history; part critique and part appeal, Roszak's take on the imminent transformation of our world is as wise as it is inspired-and utterly appealing.

About the Author

Theodore Roszak is the author of 15 books, including the 1969 classic, The Making of a Counter Culture. He was educated at UCLA and Princeton and is professor emeritus of history at State University of California - East Bay. Theodore lives in Berkeley, California.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865716617
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865716612
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,105,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Theodore Roszak (1933-2011) was the author of fifteen books, including the 1969 classic "The Making of a Counter Culture." He was professor emeritus of history at California State University, and lived in Berkeley, California.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Avra Rob on February 7, 2010
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The title refers to Roszak's earlier "The Making of a Counterculture" from 1969, which I read then with enormous pleasure, and a sense of "corroboration." It was to a certain extent a validation of the youth culture of those idealistic days, a period which brought an end to a senseless war, fostered the environmental movement, among much else, and never ceases to be vilified by the far right as the source of all evil. The youth of those days are now today's elders, the Boomers grown old, and Roszak makes in the present book an equally compelling appeal to this huge demographic to take the lead in transforming the country once more. The hope is that many among them will take up the challenge, and not spend their remaining years in indolent comfort. His scholarship is impressive, the writing eloquent but no nonsense, and his suggestions are worth serious consideration by readers of any age, but especially by those with years of experience to draw on.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert Elliott on July 1, 2010
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This book is an effort to reframe the tidal wave of aging that is sweeping through the developed world. Usually the increased percentage of older people is viewed primarily in economic terms as somewhat of a disaster. Roszak wants to reframe the aging of society as a potential positive. His hope is that the emerging wave of elders will constitute an elder culture in which motives such as ecological and social concern, compassion and care and a larger vision will dominate and benefit society. It is a hopeful and hopefully valuable reframe away from the negative and predominately economic views that have dominated to date.

However there are also problems. Roszak assumes that the older population will effectively mature and grow wise and compassionate. However, it's by no means clear this will happen. Research shows that there is unfortunately little correlation between age and wisdom. A survey of golf clubs and retirement homes suggests that the elders are a mixed population, which is hardly surprising. One hopes Roszak is right, but it is not clear if this is more than a hope.

The book is marred by an unnecessarily aggressive tone towards conservatives. This is not to say that many of Roszak's arguments against conservative views are wrong; some of his arguments seem right. However, one would hope for a wiser, more compassionate perspective than Roszak always presents.

Other areas seem less than adequately treated. The discussion of psychedelics suggest they had little enduring social or political impact. However, there is considerable evidence that psychedelics spawned a large number of social movements and these are described in the book Higher Wisdom: Eminent Elders Discuss the Continuing Impact of Psychedelics.

However, Roszak has made a valuable contribution and we can only hope that his claim that an elder culture will emerge and that it will embody wisdom and compassion is correct.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By William Timothy Lukeman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 7, 2014
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In his final non-fiction book -- which in many ways is an updating/expansion of his previous "America the Wise" -- the late Theodore Roszak looks at the promise of age as a source of deeper knowledge & wisdom. He sees it as a second chance for the 1960s generation -- yes, my generation -- to fulfill much of its unrealized potential that was lost along the way, as American culture veered to the right & became more venal, more grasping, more violent, more soulless. A more modest book than its acclaimed predecessor -- "The Making of a Counter-Culture" -- it's also more ... idealistic? hopeful? I'm not quite sure how to label it, but Roszak clearly sees possibilities rather than certainties, perhaps colored by just a touch of wishful thinking. Or perhaps I'm not quite as sanguine as he is about the current direction of American society, though of course I'd love to see it take a more humanistic path once more.

So. Let's talk about his exploration of age as a new stage of life, one that isn't necessarily doomed to senility & decay. In this, he's returning to a much older view of age, one that goes back millennia, when those who survived to old age were respected & honored for their wisdom. Is that still possible today, in such a youth-oriented culture so obviously terrified of mortality & Nature? Perhaps it is. At least it's a viable & desirable path as Roszak describes it. The prospect of an old age spent in retirement homes or cruise ships is rather ghastly; we need a better model of age than the one we've got right now. And Roszak is proposing just that.

While he spends a fair amount of his book on the economics of age & the morality of entitlements as a measure of basic human decency, I'm not as interested in that as I am in his more philosophical chapters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By EGR on September 3, 2011
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Brilliant, timely and hopeful analysis of what we can accomplish as we become wise elders. Time to tune out the doomsday naysayers and look to real creative possibilities. I'm sending this out as gifts to friends and family as well as encouraging my book group to read and discuss it. We can make our golden years productive. Thanks Ted! Glad you finished it before you departed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Candace Kaloger on March 7, 2013
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Wow! the subject is incredible for those of us who started the revolution during the 1960s
the author covers the subject starting centuries ago.
good foundation for the revolution to come
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