If the World Wars defined the first half of the twentieth century, the sixties defined the second half, providing the pivot on which modern times have turned. From popular music to individual liberties, the tastes and convictions of the Western world are indelibly stamped with the impact of that tumultuous decade.
Now one of the world's foremost historians provides the definitive look at this momentous time. Framing the sixties as a period stretching from 1958 to 1974, Arthur Marwick argues that this long decade ushered in nothing less than a cultural revolution--one that raged most clearly in the United States, Britain, France, and Italy. Writing with wit and verve, he brilliantly recaptures the events and movements that shaped our lives: the rise of a youth subculture across the West; the impact of post Beat novels and New Wave cinema; the sit ins and marches of the civil rights movement; Britain's surprising rise to leadership in fashion and music; the emerging storm over Vietnam; the Paris student rising of 1968; the new concern for poverty; the growing force of feminism and the gay rights movement; and much more. As Marwick unfolds his vivid narrative, he illuminates this remarkable era--both its origins and its impact. He concludes that it was a time that saw great leaps forward in the arts, in civil rights, and in many other areas of society and politics. But the decade also left deep divisions still felt today.
Written with tremendous force of insight and narrative power, The Sixties promises to be the single most important account of the single most important decade of our times.
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These days it seems obligatory to be either for or against the 1960s. Arthur Marwick, Professor of history at the Open University, is definitely for them. He likes them so much that this massive account of the decade starts in 1958 and doesn't finish until 1974--but this unorthodox time frame is well chosen, with a view that extends from the end of postwar austerity to the crunch of the mid-'70s oil crisis. It allows Marwick not only to place all the famous sixties incidents--including the Paris riots, the Vietnam war, the anti-war protests, and the fight over abortion rights--in historical context, but then to follow them through to their various conclusions.
While the cultural developments remain in the memory, it was the economic progress, allied to the baby boom, that really invigorated this decade. In America, the percentage of the population below the poverty line halved in the years between 1965 and 1975; in Italy the number of families with television sets and fridges doubled over the same period. "There has been nothing quite like it", Marwick persuasively argues; "nothing would ever be the same again." --Nick WroeAbout the Author:
Arthur Marwick is one of Britain's leading social and cultural historians. He has been Professor of History at the Open University since 1969, and is the author of a number of best-selling history books, including The Nature of History and British Society since 1945.
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