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The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage Paperback – July 1, 1993
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The author was elected president of Students for a Democratic Society in 1963, and he brings an insider's perspective to bear on the turbulent whirl of political, social, and sexual rebellion we now call "the sixties." Gitlin does a nice job of integrating his first-person recollections with a broader history that ranges from the roots of 1960s revolt in 1950s affluence and complacency to the movement's apocalyptic collapse in the early 1970s--a victim of its own excesses as well as governmental persecution. His lucid summary of the complex strands that intertwined to form the counterculture is essential basic reading for those who don't know the difference between the Diggers and the Yippies. --Wendy Smith
From the Publisher
"Say "the Sixties" and the images start coming, images of a time when all authority was defied and millions of young Americans thought they could change the world--either through music, drugs, and universal love or by "putting their bodies on the line" against injustice and war.
Todd Gitlin, the highly regarded writer, media critic, and professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, has written an authoritative and compelling account of this supercharged decade--a decade he helped shape as an early president of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and an organizer of the first national demonstration against the Vietnam war. Part critical history, part personal memoir, part celebration, and part meditation, this critically acclaimed work resurrects a generation on all its glory and tragedy.
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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.
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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Found It In My Local Bus And Read Only Two
Pages. I Thought I Would Smart But It's Too Boring.