Making Peace with the 60s

David Burner, Author
David Burner, Author Princeton University Press $42.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-691-02660-2
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Paperback - 324 pages - 978-0-691-05953-2
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Burner, a professor of history at SUNY, Stonybrook, offers a new look at the impact of the tumultuous '60s. Burner's masterful retelling of the civil rights movement rekindles the excitement of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and others who risked so much. Following this, however, the inclusiveness of the movement was undermined by black separatists in Nation of Islam and SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee). ""The black power ethos,"" he says, ""strives to encrust black Americans into a single mass, and whites into another."" The lasting contribution of the Republicans, who followed the Democrats into power, was a skewing of the traditional work ethic into ""Don't tax my tax dollars to relieve my neighbor's poverty."" With clearheaded expertise, Burner also pieces together the cultural mosaic of the '60s. Although his section on John Kennedy recycles much of the now familiar foibles and high-minded fortunes of JFK's White House, his treatment of writers gives real credence to the idea of literature leading to and shaping the era. Jack Kerouac's On the Road (""a road map for the sixties""), Gary Synder's Zen input of righting the relationship of self to the world, and other intellectual artifacts helped create a movement counter to Establishment materialism. Burner offers a keen-sighted, comprehensive analysis of a fascinating era that produced the Flower Children and Richard Nixon. Readers searching for an admirable explanation of the cross-connections in this mythic decade can find them here. (Oct.)
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