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Making of an Elder Culture: Reflections on the Future of America's Most Audacious Generation [Paperback]

Theodore Roszak

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Book Description

1 Dec 2009 0865716617 978-0865716612 First Printing
"It is a brilliant and highly original thesis. I commend Roszak for writing the book." - Tom Pochari, World Affairs Monthly "...sense of optimisim that comes out in this book, where Roszak champions the possibility of restoring that lost commitment to the ideals of libertion." Tom Hartley The Summer of Love. Vietnam. Woodstock. These are the milestones of the baby boomer generation Theodore Roszak chronicled in his 1969 breakthrough book The Making of a Counter Culture. Part of an unprecedented longevity revolution, those boomers form the most educated, most socially conscientious, politically savvy older generation the world has ever seen. And they are preparing for Act Two. The Making of an Elder Culture reminds the boomers of the creative role they once played in our society and of the moral and intellectual resources they have to draw upon for radical transformation in their later years. Seeing the experience of aging as a revolution in consciousness, it predicts an "elder insurgency" where boomers return to take up what they left undone in their youth. Freed from competitive individualism, military-industrial bravado, and the careerist rat race, who better to forge a compassionate economy? Who better positioned not only to demand Social Security and Medicare for themselves, but to champion "Entitlements for Everyone"? Fusing the green, the gray, and the just, Eldertown can be an achievable, truly sustainable future. Part demographic study, part history, part critique, and part appeal, Theodore Roszak's take on the imminent transformation of our world is as wise as it is inspired-and utterly appealing. Theodore Roszak is the author of fifteen books, including the 1969 classic The Making of a Counter Culture. He is professor emeritus of history at California State University, and lives in Berkeley, California.

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More About the Author

Theodore Roszak: born in 1933, a Californian Professor of History, director of the Ecopsychology Institute at California State University, social critic and novelist, author of the influential and acclaimed The Making of the Counterculture and The Cult Of Information - described by Fritjof Capra as 'one of the keenest observers and most articulate interpreters of contemporary cultural, philosophical, and scientific trends'.

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About the Author

Theodore Roszak is the author of 15 books, including the 1969 classic, The Making of a Counter Culture. He was educated at UCLA and Princeton and is professor emeritus of history at State University of California - East Bay. Theodore lives in Berkeley, California.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy sequel 7 Feb 2010
By Avra Rob - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The title refers to Roszak's earlier "The Making of a Counterculture" from 1969, which I read then with enormous pleasure, and a sense of "corroboration." It was to a certain extent a validation of the youth culture of those idealistic days, a period which brought an end to a senseless war, fostered the environmental movement, among much else, and never ceases to be vilified by the far right as the source of all evil. The youth of those days are now today's elders, the Boomers grown old, and Roszak makes in the present book an equally compelling appeal to this huge demographic to take the lead in transforming the country once more. The hope is that many among them will take up the challenge, and not spend their remaining years in indolent comfort. His scholarship is impressive, the writing eloquent but no nonsense, and his suggestions are worth serious consideration by readers of any age, but especially by those with years of experience to draw on.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reframing the aging of society: An elder culture 1 July 2010
By Robert Elliott - Published on
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This book is an effort to reframe the tidal wave of aging that is sweeping through the developed world. Usually the increased percentage of older people is viewed primarily in economic terms as somewhat of a disaster. Roszak wants to reframe the aging of society as a potential positive. His hope is that the emerging wave of elders will constitute an elder culture in which motives such as ecological and social concern, compassion and care and a larger vision will dominate and benefit society. It is a hopeful and hopefully valuable reframe away from the negative and predominately economic views that have dominated to date.

However there are also problems. Roszak assumes that the older population will effectively mature and grow wise and compassionate. However, it's by no means clear this will happen. Research shows that there is unfortunately little correlation between age and wisdom. A survey of golf clubs and retirement homes suggests that the elders are a mixed population, which is hardly surprising. One hopes Roszak is right, but it is not clear if this is more than a hope.

The book is marred by an unnecessarily aggressive tone towards conservatives. This is not to say that many of Roszak's arguments against conservative views are wrong; some of his arguments seem right. However, one would hope for a wiser, more compassionate perspective than Roszak always presents.

Other areas seem less than adequately treated. The discussion of psychedelics suggest they had little enduring social or political impact. However, there is considerable evidence that psychedelics spawned a large number of social movements and these are described in the book Higher Wisdom: Eminent Elders Discuss the Continuing Impact of Psychedelics.

However, Roszak has made a valuable contribution and we can only hope that his claim that an elder culture will emerge and that it will embody wisdom and compassion is correct.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a revolution is on the way 8 Mar 2013
By Candace Kaloger - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Wow! the subject is incredible for those of us who started the revolution during the 1960s
the author covers the subject starting centuries ago.
good foundation for the revolution to come
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellen 9 May 2012
By Ralph S. Beren - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book. As a male, it made me think about some of the male burdens I carry around and I might think about giving up.
4.0 out of 5 stars When I'm more than 64 - 4 & 1/2 stars 7 Feb 2014
By William Timothy Lukeman - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In his final non-fiction book -- which in many ways is an updating/expansion of his previous "America the Wise" -- the late Theodore Roszak looks at the promise of age as a source of deeper knowledge & wisdom. He sees it as a second chance for the 1960s generation -- yes, my generation -- to fulfill much of its unrealized potential that was lost along the way, as American culture veered to the right & became more venal, more grasping, more violent, more soulless. A more modest book than its acclaimed predecessor -- "The Making of a Counter-Culture" -- it's also more ... idealistic? hopeful? I'm not quite sure how to label it, but Roszak clearly sees possibilities rather than certainties, perhaps colored by just a touch of wishful thinking. Or perhaps I'm not quite as sanguine as he is about the current direction of American society, though of course I'd love to see it take a more humanistic path once more.

So. Let's talk about his exploration of age as a new stage of life, one that isn't necessarily doomed to senility & decay. In this, he's returning to a much older view of age, one that goes back millennia, when those who survived to old age were respected & honored for their wisdom. Is that still possible today, in such a youth-oriented culture so obviously terrified of mortality & Nature? Perhaps it is. At least it's a viable & desirable path as Roszak describes it. The prospect of an old age spent in retirement homes or cruise ships is rather ghastly; we need a better model of age than the one we've got right now. And Roszak is proposing just that.

While he spends a fair amount of his book on the economics of age & the morality of entitlements as a measure of basic human decency, I'm not as interested in that as I am in his more philosophical chapters. I do recognize the necessity of discussing money, of course, but only as a means to an end, not as an end in itself. (Though this does raise some pressing questions about what money is really for, and why we've made it our primary god.)

No, it's his examination of the deeper issues -- a meaningful life, an awareness of death, a purposeful existence enriched by human growth & learning -- that's the real heart of his book. Here he's really at home, delving into gender roles, the need for men to grow beyond the one-dimensional model of manhood that currently dominates our culture, and the cultivation of truly civilized values & practices in old age, e.g., tenderness, compassion, a longer view of life & time. It's not all that far from Jung's concept of Individuation, working towards wholeness as the rich flowering at the end of a long & full lifetime.

But is he being "realistic" -- whatever that means in an illusory culture? Given the shallowness of society as it exists today, the possibilities he proposes do seem like something of a long & uncertain shot. But if it's a difficult, even unlikely goal, it remains a positive & life-enhancing one. At the very least, striving to live such a life, even if you're the only one doing so, seems a worthwhile task. And this book is well worth reading, because everyone will reach the point of deciding what really matters in the last part of life eventually -- highly recommended!
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