America Divided

America Divided : The Civil War of the 1960s

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An interpretive survey of the political, social and cultural history of 1960s America. 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 readers 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. Considering the factors which led up to the 60s and issues such as the changing mind and condition of black America, the heyday and limitations of liberalism, youth culture, Vietnam, the New Left, the conservative revival, Nixon and the search for spirituality, the text explains what made the 1960s a decade in which people felt they could "make history" and why, in the following decades, the history that was made has been so troubling to Americans.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 152.4 x 233.68 x 27.94mm | 521.63g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 45 halftones, bibliographical essay, index
  • 0195091914
  • 9780195091915

Review Text

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 America's 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 Robinson's 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. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Table of contents

PREFACE; Introduction; 1. Gathering of the Forces; 2. Black Ordeal, Black Freedom; 3. The Heyday of Liberalism; 4. Why the U.S. Was in Vietnam; 5. 1963; 6. Rise of the Great Society; 7. 1965; 8. The Making of a Youth Culture; 9. The New Left; 10. Fall of the Great Society; 11. The Conservative Revival; 12. 1968; 13. Many Faiths: The 60s Reformation; 14. No Cease Fire: 1969-1975; Conclusion: Winners and Losers; TIMELINE OF CRITICAL EVENTS DURING THE LONG 1960S; BIBLIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY; INDEXshow more

Review quote

"An impressive achievement. The most comprehensive, comprehensible history of the American 1960s that I know."--Todd Gitlin, New York University"When two accomplished historians of the caliber of Isserman and Kazin turn their talents to a survey of the Sixties, the result is an engrossing narrative and a highly intelligent analysis of the era's cultural, political, and social events. I found myself eagerly turning pages to see how they would handle the decade's key actors, moments, and trends, and was always rewarded with judicious and insightful treatments."--Lizabeth Cohen, Harvard University"America Divided is an indispensable history of the 1960s. Isserman and Kazin grapple with the abundant paradoxes of an era of youthful activism and resurgent conservatism, of sexual revolution and religious revival, of naive political optimism and growing distrust in government. Their compelling narrative helps make sense of the most contentious political and cultural debates of our time."-- Thomas J. Sugrue, University of Pennsylvania"America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s is a riveting read, brimming with lively anecdotes, original insights, sharp analysis, and scrupulous scholarship. It is, far and away, the most compelling single volume history of the 1960s currently available. A superb book."--Douglas Brinkley, University of New Orleans"This is the finest and most comprehensive history of The Sixties ever written. Professors Isserman and Kazin skillfully combine insightful analysis and captivating narrative to demonstrate how and why that political and cultural civil war haunts us yet. Their book is therefore more than another history: it is an act of engaged citizenship."--Nelson Lichtenstein, University of Virginiashow more

Rating details

173 ratings
3.65 out of 5 stars
5 20% (35)
4 39% (68)
3 29% (50)
2 9% (16)
1 2% (4)
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