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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Account of 60's Student Movement
A rare constellation of virtues made it hard to put down this riveting volume. First of all, Gitlin is a superb writer. His language often reaches a literary quality, he has a novelist's eye for detail, an investigative journalist's command of the relevant information, and a story-teller's ability with narrative. That Gitlin is an academic sociologist shows through in...
Published on October 1, 2001 by Bruce Ballard

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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful, but not to be regarded as an introductory text
In writings about the 1960s in the US, Gitlin offers the reader a rare combination of both the perspective of a major player in the New Left at that time, and as an astude political commentator in his own right. There are, however, deficiencies in regarding the text as a good academic history of the period, as other reviewers have noted.

My particular...
Published on August 23, 2004 by JR Blackstone


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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Account of 60's Student Movement, October 1, 2001
This review is from: The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (Paperback)
A rare constellation of virtues made it hard to put down this riveting volume. First of all, Gitlin is a superb writer. His language often reaches a literary quality, he has a novelist's eye for detail, an investigative journalist's command of the relevant information, and a story-teller's ability with narrative. That Gitlin is an academic sociologist shows through in his capable analyses of social forces. His description of the dynamics of escalation in the student movement's activities together with its own self-understanding is especially enlightening. His account is also impressively fair-minded. Because he cared so much about achieving the goals of the student movement, Gitlin describes what was thought and done both sympathetically and critically. These and other reasons make the book well worth reading for anyone interested in U.S. culture. But for those of us who were involved in the campus struggles against the war in Nicaragua or against investment in apartheid South Africa in the '80's or, indeed, in any such campaigns since, this book creates a debt of gratitude.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful, but not to be regarded as an introductory text, August 23, 2004
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This review is from: The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (Paperback)
In writings about the 1960s in the US, Gitlin offers the reader a rare combination of both the perspective of a major player in the New Left at that time, and as an astude political commentator in his own right. There are, however, deficiencies in regarding the text as a good academic history of the period, as other reviewers have noted.

My particular research, and reason for reading this book, relates to the demise of SDS, and in discussing this, Gitlin frequently talks in greater detail about personalities rather than abstract, but vital, political fact. Indeed, on several occasions the author goes as far as to declare his personal dislike for several of the Weatherman leaders on the grounds of their political differences. Certainly not the stuff of academic surveys.

Perhaps best taken and used as a well-written and historically precarious yet valuable biography, rather than as some kind of definitive text of the 60s. Contains full notes and index, but no bibliographic essay.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gitlin's account is outstanding, June 25, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (Paperback)
While clearly seated in a european-intellectual tradition -- i.e. para-Marxism/Postmodenism -- Gitlin's account of the events and people of the path that took the Christain/liberal movements of the late 1950s/early 1960s towards the chaos and violence of 1968 and the early 1970s is breath-taking and powerful.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magical return to my youth, August 29, 1996
By A Customer
This review is from: The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (Paperback)
Mr. Gitlin's position as head of SDS in the 60's puts him in a unique position to write a cultural history of those turbulent times.
As a college student in the late Sixties, reading this text took me back to the days of protests, love-ins and the best music ever recorded.
Quite simply I found it a moving, magical, refreshing experience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Crafted and Scrupulously Fair, April 15, 2012
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This review is from: The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (Paperback)
Todd Gitlin's account of the sixties is part history, part autobiography. As a sometime president of SDS Gitlin was fully immersed in the actions of that period and discusses them with an intensity and level of specificity that most later historians would not be able to muster. At the same time, Gitlin is one of the country's premier sociologists dealing with media, culture and life as lived and experienced.

He is scrupulously fair--fair to his own principles and fair to his own experiences, but equally fair with regard to reality. He does not whitewash the sixties; he chronicles them. He does so with a clear eye for their idealism and their earnestness as well as their excess. He sees their successes and he sees their long-term deleterious effects.

Basically, the story is a simple one. The sixties' political movements worked in two directions: to help others and to free the self. The former was much more successful than the latter. The former now enjoys widespread support (for black civil rights and women's rights in particular). The protests against the war and the manner in which the war was justified and prosecuted are a more complex issue that continues to be divisive. The expansion of the space for the self, on the other hand, is more subject to criticism, particularly in the effects which Gitlin itemizes--the ravages of drugs, challenges to family commitment, out of wedlock births, grade inflation, and so on.

The book is long, as it needs to be, but it is beautifully written. The style is paratactic and additive, breathlessly listing events, names, issues, lifestyles, successes and ravages. A number of sociologists write well, but few as well as Gitlin. He is also a novelist. Crime readers who have not read his novel, The Murder of Albert Einstein, have missed a work of great skill.

The sixties are a bittersweet subject, mostly sweet for some, mostly bitter for others, but they must be seen in all of their facets. Most of all, they were a cultural experience and Gitlin is particularly well positioned to describe how they felt. He does so with both urgency and immediacy as well as a mature eye.

This is a very important book.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gitlin, December 6, 2006
This review is from: The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (Paperback)
THE 1960's in some respects was a decade like any other: a fixed span of time filled with otherwise disparate events. But ''The Sixties'' also came to mean something more: a style, a mood, a spirit of youthful rebelliousness with its own marketable aura of excess, adventure and innocent, shoot-for-the-moon idealism. Once that spirit was spent, as Todd Gitlin writes in ''The Sixties,'' a compelling new firsthand account of the era, the decade quickly ''receded into haze and myth,'' leaving behind only a few ''lingering images of nobility and violence,'' of charismatic martyrs and mobs in the street, ''a collage of fragments scooped together as if a whole decade took place in an instant.'' Today when pundits debate a possible resurrection of the 60's, they usually have in mind a superficially similar pastiche of trends, from paisleyed fashion and renewed evidence of dissent on campus to well-publicized displays of political conscience by popular rock stars.

Mr. Gitlin's ambitious effort to cut through the nostalgia and myth surrounding the 60's takes an unusual form. Working, as he puts it, ''at the edge of history and autobiography,'' he has written a wide-ranging narrative that oscillates between the first and third person, incorporating both new research on key episodes and potted histories of folk-rock music, hippies, the origins of the women's movement and so forth.

What is important in the book - and what makes it required reading for anyone who wants to grasp the youthful spirit of the time - is the author's highly personal chronicle of the rise and violent collapse of the New Left. Without false sentimentality, he re-creates the political odyssey of the radicals of his generation, as well as his own role in that odyssey.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What a time!, August 28, 2013
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This review is from: The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (Paperback)
There is an old curse which goes, "May you live in interesting times." For many of the "over 30" generation that era was "interesting," while for the rest of us, it was scary and exhilarating, all at the same time. Youthful camaraderie was nationwide, safe enough to hitchhike across country and join a party with total strangers. Maybe it was the stream of viewings of high school friends as they lay in their caskets or the realization of one's own mortality, but for a draft deferment, but for a high draft lottery number, which caused this feeling. Maybe it was our music with its poetic messages, different from the dogmatic and silencing demands of the adults. Even for a while, Black and White kids were arm in arm.
As an activist "during the day," graduating from college in 1971, I enjoyed Mr.Gitlin's observations. His book at its best when Gitlin steps back and gives both a personal and academic view of how events unfolded, with analysis. He is most tedious when he brags about his Harvard days, his committee work, and stretching his importance in guiding a movement that could not be guided, like a granddad telling stories on how he won the war.
In any respect, although a bit long, with a bit too small print (Okay, Im getting older.), it is worth a read. Peace Brother!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF THE TUMULTUOUS SIXTIES, April 16, 2012
This review is from: The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (Paperback)
Todd Gitlin is also the author of books such as The Whole World Is Watching: Mass Media in the Making and Unmaking of the New Left, With a New Preface, The Twilight of Common Dreams: Why America Is Wracked by Culture Wars, Occupy Nation: The Roots, the Spirit, and the Promise of Occupy Wall Street, etc. He wrote in the Introduction to this 1987 book, "It is to reclaim the actual Sixties from 'the Sixties'... as well as to find out what I think, that I have written this book. I have worked at the edge of history and autobiography... Most of this book is organized around pivotal moments..."

He wrote, "The movement's coherence required a circle of triangles. The vulgar way to say it was that the clan was consolidated through the exchange of women---yet one should not cheapen or oversimplify... (this) meant generational force, meant innocence, meant starting fresh---and meant the grand illusion that we, the New Left, could solve the problems of the Left by being young." (Pg. 109)

Gitlin details the early disagreement with the Social Democrats of the "Old Left," and observes, "By calling itself a New Left, SDS could automatically solve, transcend, the problems of the Old." (Pg. 124) Later, he adds, "by dint of being intellectuals, they were, in our eyes, inactivists. They HAD politics; we WERE politics. We wanted to know what people were prepared to do; what they thought was secondary." (Pg. 173-174)

He notes, "The landscape was cluttered with landmarks and watersheds... It is scarcely movement people alone who remember the politics of the late Sixties as a succession of exclamation points." (Pg. 286) But he also perceptively states that, even as they chanted, "The whole world is watching!" at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, "our giddiness kept us from reckoning with the majority of the 'whole world' that, watching, loathed us." (Pg. 335)

He notes that "The war subsided, and so, for students and no-longer-students, did the urgency of politics." (Pg. 421) He had concluded earlier, "By the early Seventies the upheaval was over---as mysteriously as it had appeared, and as worldwide." (Pg. 3) He concludes on the note, "My generation numbers teachers more activist ... than their students, rock stars more antiestablishment than their audiences... But the Sixties' returns are not in... There are movements waiting to happen, movements that will imitate, and transcend, and sometimes caricacture those of the past... And still there are no guarantees that noble purposes will produce the best of all possible results."

Not the most pure "history" of the period, the interweaving of personal storytelling with more "objective" reporting makes this a fascinating book, for anyone wanting to learn about (or fondly remember) the Sixties.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!, June 29, 2014
This review is from: The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (Paperback)
In good condition! This was used for a very important paper I had to write. Good book for my collection.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Expansive Title, March 31, 2014
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The title of the book suggested a broader assessment of the sixties which is why I chose it. It does provide an interesting history of the Students For A Democratic Society (SDS) and its relationship to the events and attitudes of the era. As I began reading, I thought it was going to be either an apology or a defense; it didn't seem to be either. Instead it was a solid descriptive by an insider. As someone who "came of age" during the sixties and who was on the fringes of "the movement," the book provided a reminder of what many of us wanted to accomplish but in the long run didn't.
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The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage
The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage by Todd Gitlin (Paperback - July 1, 1993)
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