America in White, Black, and Gray: The Stormy 1960s

Klaus P. Fischer, Author Continuum $29.95 (452p) ISBN 978-0-8264-1816-6
Unlike many 1960s books that cover the years between 1968 and 1972, Fischer's (Nazi Germany: A New History) sprawling, tirelessly researched and opinionated new history takes in the whole epoch, with backward glances to the preceding decades. This leads him to entangle himself in the roots of the events that exploded in the '60s, but it also provides a welcome depth. Obscure figures like the teenaged marketing whiz Eugene Gilbert get their due alongside John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., and a great deal of ground is covered in thematic chapters. Fischer views the decade's events through a conservative lens, spinning the melee of the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago as an exercise in media bias and interpreting the explosion of youth culture-sparked by ""beatnik moles"" who ate ""both the healthy and unhealthy roots"" of the '50s ""neo-Victorian morality""-as a capitulation to narcissism and nihilism. Similarly, he takes a hard line with idealized movie rebels, but reserves his toughest criticism for those ""grandiose, inflated, doctrinaire, and ultimately self-defeating"" villains: radical feminists. Fischer's cranky tone gives this wide-ranging account an edge, but readers may wish he'd focused more narrowly.
Reviewed on: 04/03/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
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