Cover image for The 1960s cultural revolution
The 1960s cultural revolution
McWilliams, John C., 1949-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
xxxvii, 187 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Reading Level:
1490 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E841 .M37 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Progressing at a dizzying, frenetic pace, the 1960s were synonymous with rebellion and conflict. No other decade in the 20th century was so tumultuous. This gripping and engagingly written guide to the forces that shaped the 1960s cultural revolution examines the New Left, the antiwar movement, and the counterculture. A narrative historical overview puts the decade in perspective. Essays follow on each of the above topics, and a concluding essay discusses the legacy of the era. The work also features a wealth of ready reference material--a comprehensive timeline of events in the 1960s, biographical profiles of key players, the text of important primary documents associated with the political, social and cultural rebellion, a glossary of terms, and a helpful annotated bibliography of print and nonprint materials suitable for students.

The author, an expert in the social history of the era, examines the political activism, protests, music, and social conduct that made the 1960s such an extraordinary era. He also demonstrates that contrary to popular thinking, only a small minority of the baby boomers who came of age then were directly involved in student demonstrations, protests against the Vietnam War, or antisocial behavior that many Americans perceive as typical of the 1960s. Bringing to life the passion of the era are the texts of primary documents such as statements from the Students for a Democratic Society, speeches by leaders of the student protest movement and the Hippies, interviews, and responses from establishment politicians. The analytical essays, primary documents, and ready-reference material will help students to gain a deeper understanding of the period.

Author Notes

John C. McWilliams is associate professor of history at Penn State University-DuBois

Reviews 2

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-A comprehensive look at a complex period, written in an engaging, readable style. The changes and challenges that manifested themselves in the 1960s did not begin and end in a neat 10-year package, so this book actually runs through to 1975 and the end of the Vietnam War. McWilliams writes in the preface: "Seldom has an era been simultaneously exaggerated and oversimplified, reviled and revered. The sixties. History in motion. At warp speed. We may never be the same." What follows is a lengthy chronology and a historical overview that includes not only events, but also a discussion of "the temper of the times." The book has a lengthy chronology, a notable selection of primary documents, and an extensive annotated bibliography that includes videos and Web sites. Of particular usefulness is a unique chapter on the not-so-obvious makers of history, "The Personalities Behind the Cultural Revolution," which presents short entries on political activists, student leaders, and artists. This is a fascinating and comprehensible book that succeeds in making sense of a tumultuous time in the political, social, and cultural development of America. A fine resource for reports and for interested readers.-Jane Halsall, McHenry Public Library District, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This work follows the format of its predecessors in the series "Guides to Historic Events of the Twentieth Century," beginning with a chronology of significant events, followed by brief chapters giving a synthetic historical account of the topic, and concluding with a series of one-page biographical sketches on important personages. McWilliams focuses on the New Left, the antiwar movement, and the counterculture, giving a brief and selective historical account of each, debunking exaggerated assertions about the influence (whether beneficent or tragic) of each, and putting them in the context of larger forces shaping the period. McWilliams suggests that in each movement "members of the younger generation were the catalysts for sweeping social and political changes," even if those changes were not always what they anticipated. The baby boomer generation active in the movements "exposed social injustice and challenged authority," even if, in the long run, their revolutionary aspirations overshot themselves while their styles and fashions were co-opted by corporate capitalists. A solid and fair, if conventional, view of the period, useful as a reference text for collections serving general and undergraduate students. P. Harvey; University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Table of Contents

Randall M. Miller
Series Forewordp. ix
Prefacep. xiii
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Chronology of Eventsp. xvii
1 Historical Overviewp. 1
2 The New Left and the End of Consensusp. 27
3 Give Peace a Chance: The Antiwar Movementp. 47
4 Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out: The Counterculturep. 65
5 Legacy of the 1960s Cultural Revolutionp. 83
Biographies: The Personalities Behind the Cultural Revolutionp. 101
Primary Documents of the Cultural Revolutionp. 127
Glossary of Selected Termsp. 161
Annotated Bibliographyp. 165
Indexp. 175