Cover image for The 60s communes : hippies and beyond
The 60s communes : hippies and beyond
Miller, Timothy, 1944-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Syracuse, N.Y. : Syracuse University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xxvi, 329 pages ; 23 cm

Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
HQ971 .M55 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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The greatest wave of communal living in American history crested in the tumultuous 1960s era including the early 1970s. To the fascination and amusement of more decorous citizens, hundreds of thousands of mostly young dreamers set out to build a new culture apart from the established society that they believed was on a slippery slope to oblivion. Widely believed by the larger public to be sinks of drug-ridden sexual immorality, the communes variously fascinated and repelled the American people.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

As a historian of both the counterculture and non-mainline spirituality, Miller (religious studies, Univ. of Kansas; The Hippies and American Values) has a properly broad perspective from which to view U.S. communalism. In this sequel to The Quest for Utopia in 20th-Century America (Syracuse Univ., 1998), he examines the communes' brief zenith. But while Miller's surveying skills are, indeed, considerable--his appendixes identify 1600-plus communes extant in 1960-75--the body of his text occasionally reads like an annotated list of historic sites. He mentions each site at least once but reveals little that is new. Communes were places where sexual openness and drug use were rampant but not all-pervading, he (unsurprisingly) finds. What is surprising is that he mentions neither the Quakers of Pendle Hill nor Scott and Helen Nearing, the most prominent of the back-to-nature advocates. And he gives communal dwellers excessive credit for spreading an environmental ethos and appetite for whole foods--phenomena that are surely the legacy, more generally, of a wide range of events of the 1960s. The book's most interesting sections deal with the Jesus Freak phenomenon and young Christians' experiments with intentional community. On balance, however, Miller has done a great service: there are precious few scholarly treatments of the movement--nearly all the existing material on 1960s communalism was published before 1975. An important acquisition; recommended for academic and theological libraries.--Scott H. Silverman, Bryn Mawr Coll. Lib., PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Miller's enormously important book explores the rich variety of utopias that appeared in the US for the approximately 15-year period that began about 1960. Although no one experiment typifies the communal experience, commonalities exist, including the themes of anarchy, drugs, pacifism, and sexual freedom. And these new-breed communards, who frequently opted for rural isolation, were overwhelmingly young, white, and middle class. By providing brief historical sketches of representative utopias, both secular and sectarian, Miller has sensibly managed a difficult task. Moreover, he wisely reveals connections between earlier communities, especially those of the 19th century, and 60s communes. Augmenting a superbly crafted narrative is an outstanding appendix, "American Communes Active 1960-1975," which lists and attempts to date more than 1,250 experiments. This bookshould be widely used; for decades it is likely to be the standard work on the subject. All levels. H. R. Grant Clemson University