Friday, January 30, 2009

1968: The Year that Rocked the World by Mark Kurlansky (15/81)

Category: Retro - Beats, Hippies, 1960s and Counter Culture.

In comparison to many of my other books, this was quite a weighty read and at first I struggled to read more than a chapter or two at a time because there was a lot of information to take in. However, about half way through, I got into the swing of it and completed it quite quickly.

It was a good book to read early in the challenge for this category as it provided a huge amount of background information on the political situation in this period. Although it obviously focuses on the year in the title, there were detailed explanations of what led there. There was a lot on the USA, understandably given the war with Vietnam and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, but it was just as informative about Czechoslovakia, France and Mexico.

One of the recurring themes in the book was the relationship between the media (especially television) and the events of the year, and a very interesting point was made about the movement away from non-violent protests being due to the media age. In terms of the civil rights movement, anti-war protests and student demonstrations, it is obvious that the author is on the side of these campaigns, but there is still some criticism of them for example the sidelining of women’s rights and the portrayal of Martin Luther King is not always flattering.

The book was fascinating, but was much less about the culture of the period than I was expecting from the blurb on the back. In retrospect, given the huge amount it already covered, this was not really a problem, but I thought I should highlight that in case anyone else reads it expecting chapters on music, film and fashion.

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