In this book, David Farber grounds our understanding of the extraordinary history of the 1960s by linking the events of that era to our country's grand projects of previous decades. Farber's important study, based on years of research in archives and oral histories as well as in historical literature, explores Vietnam, the Civil Rights Act, the War on Poverty, the entertainment business, the drug culture, and much more.
Farber ( Chicago '68 ) writes that ``with President Kennedy's death, Americans confronted a grim reality: not all of America's possibilities were good.'' Following the country's unprecedented prosperity and world influence after WW II, the '60s were marked by emerging violence and discontent--the Watts riots, brutal political killings--the fearsome responses to shattered hopes. Farber sketches an arresting picture of a national midlife crisis recorded and disseminated in part by an infectious TV culture that, for the first time, provided the majority of Americans with their news, and hit an unlikely nerve with the ever popular story of a poor family making good-- The Beverly Hillbillies . Beatniks, Beatles, Timothy Leary and marijuana busts shared prime time with Vietnam, Mario Salvio's Free Speech movement, Black Power and the landmark Civil Rights Act (Lyndon Johnson reportedly said to segregationist Sen. Richard Russell, ``get out of my way. I'm going to run over you''). The great dreams of the '60s, like Johnson's Great Society, collided with the explosive realities. With deft overview, Farber explores the many intertwined movements, including Kennedy's strident anti-communist election campaign that later contributed to his committing combat troops in Vietnam. Although the complex arts and letters get short shrift in favor of pop culture, and a sense of pastiche is inevitable, readers who lived through the '60s--or wish they did--will relish this work.