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The Sixties: Cultural Transformation in Britain, France, Italy and the United States, c. 1958 - c. 1974 Paperback – February 3, 2000

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Editorial Reviews


"Marwick has made genuine contribution, first in affirming the reality of the cultural revolution as it manifested itself in so many spheres of life; then in showing how that revolution permeated and transformed mainstream society; and finally in putting it all in an international perspective, exposing the differences and yet basic similarities provided by the perspective."--The Washington Post Book World

"An ambitious synthesis.... Mr. Marwick's prodigious research and encyclopedic scope will make this book a helpful and entertaining reference work for a time to come."--Washington Times

About the Author

Arthur Marwick is one of Britain's leading social and cultural historians. He has been Professor of History at the Open University since 1969, and is the author of a number of best-selling history books, including The Nature of History and British Society since 1945.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 952 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (February 3, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192881000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192881007
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,373,685 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Daniel J. Hamlow HALL OF FAME on March 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
In his book, The Sixties, Arthur Marwick argues that a cultural revolution took place from 1958 to 1974, "the Long Sixties,." which revolutionized artistic standards and values and changed the individual's relation to society. He further divides the Sixties into the low Sixties (1958-1963), where things began in a relatively non-violent fashion, the High Sixties (1964-1968/9), where things culminated to a crescendo of violence to 1968, and the final phase (1969-1974). He looks at four countries where this cultural revolution took place: Great Britain, France, Italy, and the United States.
The economic boom of the 1950's continued in the 1960's. Most families had radios, televisions, automobiles, and refrigerators. Teenagers became an economic class in themselves in that they became a target market. Most of them began buying their own clothing, toiletries, and luxury items, or influenced their parents into buying said items. Their tastes in music were a radical departure from their parents--e.g. Fats Domino, Little Richard, and Elvis Presley. Britain too experienced the "teenage ball" as coined in Colin MacInnes Absolute Beginners.
It was from this generation that the Students for a Democratic Society emerged, led by Al Haber and Tom Hayden, the latter who composed the Port Huron Statement which was the rehearsal of the major concerns to be taken up by the New Left and the Movement in the High Sixties.
I was particularly struck by the issue that only marginally succeeded in the United States (The Great Society) but was a progressive enlightened vision in Britain, "the civilized society," as coined by Home Secretary Roy Jenkins, and the welfare state.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
People changed, not the system. Extremism enriched culture, Marxism disappointed realists. Dreamers believed in Mao and music to remake the world, but personal changes failed to sustain lasting economic or political shifts in power. This sums up the thesis from a founding professor of history at The Open University since '69: ideally placed to comment on this decade, in fact spanning 1958-74.

This enormous book, published in '98, hides within its heft, its reams of data, its dutiful reporting much wisdom, many archival gems, and innovative research. Marwick favors primary texts in Britain, the U.S., France, and Italy, and these transcend expectations. "Room at the Top" and "This Sporting Life" gain in-depth analysis and comparison of text to film to illustrate the evolving mores in Britain as consumer frivolity eroded postwar frugality. Memphis State U's paper "Tiger Rag" documents student reactions to desegregation. A French Communist magazine aimed at youth (of both sexes) has its reviews of early Beatles pop records compared to those of Catholic competitors in the press (one for each gender). Diaries show how political change affected not only the young but their parents. An widowed Italian mother, who in mid-'68 picks up caramel wrappers after her radicalized son entertains boorishly his privileged comrades, over the next eighteen months starts to read the Communist Manifesto and to investigate this feminism that the boy's girlfriend carries on about.

Liberalization on the personal level, as goods cheapened and wages rose, allows sexual and philosophical transformation, but Marwick stresses how the mooted "working-class awareness" distinguishes itself from "consciousness" contrary to Marxian pieties.
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