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All Dressed Up: The Sixties and the Counterculture Paperback – 19 Aug 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Pimlico; New Ed edition (19 Aug. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712665234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712665230
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.7 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 263,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonathon Green is Britain's foremost lexicographer of slang. His many publications include the Chambers Slang Dictionary, the Slang Thesaurus and Slang Down the Ages. He has also compiled dictionaries of quotations and oral histories of modern culture. His latest work is the multi-volume Green's Dictionary of Slang on Historical Principles.

Product Description

Amazon Review

In the introduction to All Dressed Up, Jonathon Green calls the 60s the pivotal decade of the 20th century. This is a bold statement--the First World War, the 20s, 30s and Second World War have had a far greater global impact. But there is no doubt that the 60s do hold a special place in Western culture--not least for those who lived through them. The main claim to the 60s is that they saw the birth of the youth culture that thrives today. Before then society deferred exclusively to age and experience; teenagers were just youngsters going through an awkward phase on their way to becoming adults rather than people in their own right. This was largely due to war--or absence of it. Previous generations of young people had grown up expecting to fight a war. While the Cold War hovered over the late 50s and early 60s, it was generally seen as a potential one- off armageddon rather than a protracted ground affair, so this generation was encouraged to envision a life without war. Moreover, some of the affluence of this period had filtered down to them and for the first time they became a potent economic force. The Second World War produced another, more subtle, effect. Those who fought in it had few doubts they were fighting for a good cause and that victory would improve the world. This idealism remained with the younger generation and was reflected in much of the efforts to create a better, alternative society. With hindsight, most of the "tune in, turn on, dropout" messages of the 60s appear naive and faintly ridiculous, but in some ways this utopianism has more to recommend it than the jaded cynicism that followed.

Jonathon Green worked on several underground magazines, including the infamous Oz, during the 60s and he is both a fine advocate and historian of the period. He takes us faithfully and, at times, lovingly through the political counterculture of sex and drugs and rock'n'roll. Surviving hippies invariably reckon they have the definitive take on the60s and no doubt many will come crawling out of the woodwork to take issue with All Dressed Up. But if you weren't there--or you were just too tuned in and turned on to remember--then stick with Green. --John Crace

Book Description

The definitive account of the sixties in Britain by a writer who has become an authority on the subject - or, to put it in another way, sex, drugs and rock`n`roll.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. SIRL on 12 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
If you are fascinated by sixties culture and wish to find out more, this book is a good read. It is not an entertaining review of the decade: High Sixties by ??? is better for that. Rather, it is an in depth analysis of the sixties counter-culture and its origins, some of which stretch back farther than you would ever imagine. Everything from pot to gay liberation is explored here with a welcome impartiality. Occasionally a little heavy, but always informative.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Jun. 2001
Format: Paperback
The 1960s counterculture was the most exraordinary and enthralling social phenomenon of modern times. Based around the interviews he conducted for his classic oral history of the milieu, 'Days in the Life' (1988), Green's new book, while peppered with sardonic reflections from the vantagepoint of hindsight and worldly maturity, effectively conveys the sheer exhilaration of this seminal, idealistic, quintessentially youthful movement. All aspects of the counterculture in England (i.e. London plus a few free festivals) are covered - not just the usual story of psychedelic rock music, but performance poetry, anti-psychiatry, gay liberation, White Panthers, pop art, Grosvenor Square protests, the Angry Brigade, the Oz trial and much else. The author utilises his knowledge as a lexicographer to write with a rare stylish wit, offering shrewd, well-measured judgements without ever becoming too dry for the casual reader. The fact that Green was there himself - as an editor of Friends, Oz and IT - adds a keenness to the history, without rendering it unbalanced or self-indulgent. 'All Dressed Up' provides us with lessons from the days when radicals of all persuasions felt that the future was on their side. The counterculture provided its fair share of tragedy, bigotry and banality, but its sheer idealism contrasts so markedly with modern-day cynicism that it is hard not to envy those whose lives it enrichened. We can't revive the sixties, but we can all learn from what happened then, and the best way to do so is to read 'All Dressed Up', a thoroughly entertaining story of an inspiring cultural adventure.
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Format: Paperback
As another reviewer has stated , this is not an easy glossy wallow in nostalgia as so many books on this period are. Rather it is an extremely well researched analysis of the Sixties (particularily London) Counter Culture ,its roots , what actually happened at the time , and the legacy. The author is not afraid to criticise where justified but also points to the lasting positive changes to the lives of ordinary people that arose from the actions and thoughts of actually quite a small number of sixties people. The advantage this book has over others is that J Green was very involved with many of the things he describes and is able to draw upon first-hand accounts from the people concerned. Particularily interesting was the political and philosophical background to the changes - nothing suddenly happened over-night - and I gained great respect for the work that Roy Jenkins did in changing the UK into a free-er and hopefully happier society.
Recommended as essential reading for serious students of the time , but do note that it is basically an Academic Text/source book rather than an entertainment , although thats not to imply that it is a difficult read.

As a PS, I was interested by the comment made by another reviewer regarding Caroline Coon. I am surprised if she did object to parts of the book and I would urge you to give it a another chance. There may well be the odd mistake , but essentially this is a very worthwhile read.
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5 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Arleigh on 29 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback
Caroline Coon successfully challenged the tabloid guesswork relating to Release in this book. Wild bargepoles wouldn't get me to read one word of it, let alone buy the dog.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Informative but somewhat flawed survey of a magical era 15 May 2013
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jonathon Green was a participant in the 1960s London counterculture, though he came late, editing the underground publication Friends in the early 1970s. However, he made the acquaintance of many longtime players and developed a keen interest in documenting this magical era. His Days in the Life is a collection of oral histories about the Sixties and the counterculture, and he followed that book up with this one, ALL DRESSED UP, a comprehensive survey of the decade. It is getting somewhat hard to find: the original hardpack printing included an assertion about Caroline Coon, the founder of Release, that led to a libel case. A paperback printing went through in the meantime, but after Coon won the case, all copies of this book were taken off the market. It's a shame, as this is a highly informative chronicle of the era.

The borders of "the Sixties" are ill-defined, with many feeling that the counterculture started three of four years into that decade and continued to at least 1971. Green prefers to err on the safe side and opens with the 1950s Beat movement and its impact on Britain, as many of the early players in the counterculture had in fact been active in Beat literary circles. His survey goes on to about 1972 or 1973, when the counterculture was more or less dead but out of its ashes arose Britain's gay rights and women's liberation movements.

After a long introductory section describing the Beats, the rise of youth culture, teds, mods and "swinging London", ALL DRESSED UP is divided into three main parts: Dope, Revolution and Sex in the Streets. each of which consists of chapters dedicated to various sub-themes. Under "Dope", Green describes the poety reading at the Albert Hall in 1965 where the underground came together for the first time, the birth of the underground newspaper International Times, the use of LSD and cannabis and the authorities' crackdown and the hippie trail. "Revolution" describes the student revolts of the late 1960s, the movement against the war in Vietnam, the Angry Brigade's bombings and the eventual trial of several members and finally the Black Power movement. "Sex in the Streets" features chapters on the underground press and obscenity trials, gay rights, women's liberation and the era's rock music scene.

The afterword is a poignant one, as it often is in books on this era. Green notes that in hindsight, the counterculture was somewhat parasitic on mainstream society, it didn't manage to transcend the middle class and appeal to the working class masses, and it lasted as long as a booming British economy did. However, in a libertarian fashion, Green summarizes the 1960s counterculture as a force that removed the restrictions on what adults could do to their own bodies (drugs) or to each other in consentual relationships (sex), on the kind of literature they could write and consume, and also as a force empowering hitherto marginalized groups like women, gays, blacks, students and the Third World. In the years that followed, some of the counterculture bore lasting fruit, but just as many hopes were dashed. Green briefly vents some spleen against Thatcher, under whose administration the Sixties counterculture's idealism was attacked as the cause of so many ills. He seems to have not been a fan of New Labour either.

I have developed quite an interest in the 1960s London counterculture and have read a number of books on the subject. I am happy that I found a copy of ALL DRESSED UP, and it does fill a niche; few other works discuss the anti-psychiatry or gay rights movements in detail (or at all) like Green does. However, two things disappointed me about this book. One is that there may be more unfounded hearsay and rumour here than just the claim about Caroline Coon. For example, Green claims that one participant at a counterculture ball nearly asphyxiated because he had painted his body and "forget to leave an uncovered patch of skin to breathe through" -- that fanciful execution method from the James Bond film GOLDFINGER has been proven to be without foundation, people don't have to breathe through their skin, and Green was unquestionably passing along someone's misremembering of the evening.

The other problem with this book is that Green brings up many figures without really telling the reader who they were, the book becomes a sort of list of names. Now, since I've read so much about this era, I had heard most of these names before, but I think many readers would feel overwhelmed. The more concise survey High Sixties by Roger Hutchinson (like Green a latecomer to the counterculture but a passionate historian) offers a better introduction to the era, and after reading that you'd be more prepared to move on to Green's book.
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