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A Hard Rain: America in the 1960s, Our Decade of Hope, Possibility, and Innocence Lost Hardcover – August 28, 2018
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Frye Gaillard’s A Hard Rain brings us back to the 1960s, a remarkable era when the Civil Rights Movement struggled, in a time of racial strife and violence, to “save the soul of America”; when a young president’s idealism created the Peace Corps, and challenged his country to put a man on the moon; when a sexual and cultural revolution swept over a new generation; and when the U.S. became embroiled in the increasingly unpopular and unwinnable War in Vietnam and an unfought war on poverty at home. Gaillard brings those who lived through those days back to a time of Kennedys and King, and those who did not to an understanding of a decade that continues to reach into and define our present moment. ― Theodore Shaw, Julius L. Chambers Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the UNC Center for Civil Rights
If you lived through the 1960s and still don’t have a handle on that kaleidoscopic era, or if you’ve heard about the wacky Sixties and want to understand them, then run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookseller and buy A Hard Rain: America in the 1960s, Our Decade of Hope, Possibility and Innocence Lost. ― Martha’s Vineyard Times
There is a bittersweet pleasure in reading A Hard Rain, Frye Gaillard’s very personal account of the 1960s, and the subtitle captures our ambivalence: Our Decade of Hope, Possibility and Innocence Lost. Gaillard’s graceful narrative may be about a past decade, but he speaks to the present for the lost opportunities and the moral and political failures of the 1960s have returned to haunt us today. ― Dan Carter, Education Foundation, University Professor Emeritus, University of South Carolina
The Sixties had it all ― social movements and space exploration, once-in-a-generation musicians and once-in-a-lifetime martyrs, a Cold War and a hot one, too. A Hard Rain beautifully ties it all together in poetic prose that makes the pain and pleasure, tragedy and triumph of these tumultuous years come alive. Whether you came of age during the Sixties like author Frye Gaillard or were born after it like me, A Hard Rain is the new starting point for anyone who wants to understand the most impactful decade of the 20th century. ― Hasan Kwame Jeffries, professor of history, Ohio State University, author of Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt
I’m swept away by how comprehensive A Hard Rain is, by its anecdotal style, its readability, the range of topics, ambition of the undertaking, and emotionality and intellectual integrity of the author. There has been a lot of attention these last few years to the 1960s as any number of fiftieth anniversaries have been celebrated. But these have been like drum solos. Frye Gaillard’s book, with its mixture of the personal and scholarly, with its weaving together of so many stories, is simply symphonic. This is great work. ― Malcolm Margolin, author and award-winning editor and founder of Heyday and News from Native California
A totally absorbing read! Frye Gaillard takes us there and makes it all so real that we forget we're reading. Older readers will feel young, uncertain, and idealistic again. Younger readers will hope to find the courage of the 1960s ― in politics, artistic expression, science ― to improve the lot of all humankind on this precious earth. Gaillard's A Hard Rain is worthy of the best literary prizes our country can bestow. ― Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab's Wife, Four Spirits, and Abundance
A child of the Sixties and one of the leading civil-rights reporters of his generation, Frye Gaillard has given us a riveting tour along what he calls the fine line between history and journalism. As a reporter, he has witnessed a great deal and interviewed many of the key figures of the decade that shaped America’s future while breaking its heart. As a scholar, he has read widely and thought deeply about our nation’s halting pursuit of justice and mercy for all. A Hard Rain is essential reading for a time when an American president has willfully ignored the hard-earned lessons from our passage through the most tumultuous decade of social change since the Civil War. ― Howell Raines, former executive editor of The New York Times, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
A Hard Rain traces the history of the raucous decade in which Frye Gaillard and this writer both grew up. The resulting work is one of those culmination-of-a-life's-work books most non-fiction writers can only dream about. The book is a powerful, engaging mix of concise, hard reporting with a strong narrative thrust and a personal touch. It's also a great read, in Gaillard's trademark knowledgeable but casual, nearly conversational style. A jaw-dropping popular history of the 1960s. ― John Grooms, Creative Loafing
As a history, A Hard Rain is exhaustive, recounting not only well-known events such as the Kennedy assassinations and the March on Washington but also dozens of less publicized incidents that spoke to the national mood. Frye Gaillard excels at weaving his own experiences of the decade without distracting from the overall narrative, and his research brings long-forgotten events to the fore. A full-scale, flowing journey through the decade. ― Library Journal
About the Author
- Publisher : NewSouth Books (August 28, 2018)
- Language: : English
- Hardcover : 704 pages
- ISBN-10 : 158838344X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1588383440
- Item Weight : 2.5 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.5 x 1.9 x 9.4 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #169,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Frye Gaillard narrates the text in first person because he lived the 60s, in a presence I did not have during those years. I was aware of the groundbreaking events of that decade, but not INVOLVED in the way Gaillard was. But his narrative is cleverly reported, with only an occasional insertion of the first person, e.g., telling of being in a car with Robert Kennedy, who was leaving the Nashville airport after speaking at Vanderbilt. At such places in the narrative I am jolted back to the realization that Gaillard was THERE. Yes, he is writing from research--he certainly did a massive amount of that--but also from personal experience.
In A HARD RAIN, Gaillard does not just give the reader massive doses of history, he relates the facts through stories, wonderful anecdotes filled with characters, families, grief, joy, and revelations that stunned me by his subtle observations. E.g., there's a chilling quote from a speech by George Wallace in 1968:
We don't have riots down in Alabama. They start a riot down there, first one of 'em to pick up a brick gets a bullet in the brain, that's all. And then you walk over to the next one and say, "All right, pick up a brick. We just want to see you pick up one of them bricks, now!"
That quote is followed by a return to the narrative:
Less than fifty years later, such rhetoric would carry a candidate to his party's nomination and all the way to the White House.
And there's no doubt who is meant by "a candidate"--I remembered roaring crowds chanting, "Lock her up!"
NewSouth Books is to be congratulated for publishing this astonishing book, which should be ranked with books like David Halberstam's THE FIFTIES.
There's one thing I wish Gaillard had written about aside from one brief mention, and that is the urban renewal that swept this country in the 1960s (and earlier, and later), when over 300,000 American were forced from their homes--mostly Black Americans--by what writer James Baldwin called "negro removal." But that's my soapbox, not Frye's.
The three threads are incomplete only because the 1960s weren’t long enough, and the United States was exhausted. There were major accomplishments in all three, and they’re not finished yet here in 2018! My vicarious enjoyment focused on Civil Rights as I read the book. I never was very absorptive or understanding about Music, and I spent the decade deeply involved as a NASA engineer in Space Travel. Thanks to Gaillard for documenting Civil Rights so thoroughly.
The events were momentous: JFK, RFK, MLK, political powerhouses of the era, all assassinated; Vietnam, civil rights, the racist murder of four girls at Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church; Thurgood Marshall, LBJ; the moon walk of astronauts Armstrong & Aldrin; the music of Joplin, Dylan, Ronstadt, Cash; To Kill a Mockingbird, Silent Spring; Black Like Me; Friedan, feminism, Steinem, the pill.
The scope is national, the devotion to freedom and country intense, while some of the narrative freshness comes from a regional emphasis, a love of the south that provides an insider’s look at the enormous risks borne by southerners during the decade’s vicious battles for civil rights and justice. Sadly, this perspective never found legs outside its region because, blended into our national history, it adds heft and complexity. That’s transformative, and it’s the best writing there is.
A raconteur historian, Gaillard is truly a rare and wonderful writer. A Hard Rain is a book to celebrate and devour, a must read of the year if not the decade.