America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s

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9780195091915: America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s

America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s is the definitive interpretive survey of the political, social, and cultural history of 1960s America. Written by two top experts on the eraMaurice Isserman, a scholar of the Left, and Michael Kazin, a specialist in Right-wing politics and culturethis book provides a compelling tale of this tumultuous era filled with fresh and persuasive insights. Arguing that the period marked the end of the country's two-century-long ascent toward widespread affluence, domestic consensus, and international hegemony, the authors take students on a tour of the turbulent decade, exploring what did and did not change in the 1960s and why American culture and politics have never been the same since. America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s explains what made the 1960s a decade in which people felt they could make history and why, in the following decades, the history felt so troubling to Americans. They cover such events as the Cuban Missile Crisis and Operation Rolling Thunder, the rise of Motown, Bob Dylan and the Beatles, and the important role played by organizations ranging from the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee to the Campus Crusade for Christ. They also shed some much-needed light on the eras often overlooked rise of the New Right and its far reaching implications which not only offer a critical dimension to the understanding of this period but to the future of America as well. Isserman and Kazin offer the most sophisticated understanding of the key developments of the decade and break new ground with their careful attention to every aspect of the political and cultural spectrum making America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s an exciting and essential narrative for both students and general readers alike.

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About the Author:

Maurice Isserman, Professor of History, Hamilton College. Michael Kazin, Professor of History, American University.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A thoroughly detailed, well-written history of the tumultuous recent past. Historians Isserman (Hamilton College; If I Had a Hammer, 1987) and Kazin (Georgetown Univ.; The Populist Persuasion) take a past-is-a-foreign-country approach to the events of the 1960s. Survivors of the time might get a chuckle at some of the data the authors see the need to explain: The most common drug in the `60s was marijuana, nearly as ubiquitous in youth communities as was bottled beer everywhere else in America. Motown became renowned for its tight orchestrations and catchy lyrics. Martin Luther King Jr. occupied a unique place in American political life. But veterans of the era are evidently not the principal audience for this book, which seems intended for graduate students in American history. They are well served by the authors, who rigorously defend their view that the `60s were in fact a time of civil war, and not merely civil disobedience: The body count in Vietnam and in Americas inner cities, they suggest, are argument enough. This war had its origins in the 1950s, they observe, in a time when a golden age of post-WWII prosperity ran counter to an escalating Cold War, which cost a fortune and led to the economic dislocations and spiraling inflation of the succeeding decade. One campaign in that war, centering on civil rights for ethnic minorities, began a decade earlier in such acts as Lt. Jackie Robinsons refusal in 1944 to sit at the back of a crowded bus. (Robinson would face a court-martial for his act of civil disobedience, and would soon thereafter break the color barrier in major-league baseball.) Yet a third front would open when a substantial number of young Americans rejected the values of their elders and the bankrupt promises of Presidents Johnson and Nixon. All combined, the authors write, to lead America to a period of unwonted civil violence. Isserman, a specialist in leftist politics, and Kazin, a student of modern conservativism, make a solid tag team. Their thoroughgoing research and vivid writing make this a book of interest to students and general readers alike. (45 photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Maurice Isserman, Michael Kazin
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