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The Sixties (Big Ideas) [Paperback]

Jenny Diski
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 July 2010 Big Ideas

Many books have been written on the Sixties: tributes to music and fashion, sex, drugs and revolution. In The Sixties, Jenny Diski breaks the mould, wryly dismantling the big ideas that dominated the era - liberation, permissiveness and self-invention - to consider what she and her generation were really up to. Was it rude to refuse to have sex with someone? Did they take drugs to get by, or to see the world differently? How responsible were they for the self-interest and greed of the Eighties?

With characteristic wit and verve, Diski takes an incisive look at the radical beliefs to which her generation subscribed, little realising they were often old ideas dressed up in new forms, sometimes patterned by BIBA. She considers whether she and her peers were as serious as they thought about changing the world, if the radical sixties were funded by the baby-boomers' parents, and if the big idea shaping the Sixties was that it really felt as if it meant something to be young.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (1 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846680042
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846680045
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Jenny Diski is one of Britain's sharpest social commentators, her writing distinguished by its bleak wit, its honesty and acerbity. The Sixties is Diski at her most characteristically brilliant (Michelle Roberts FT)

Eloquent and probing ... entertaining and accurate (Robert Irwin Independent 2009-06-26)

I loved this book because it reminded me of so many small aspects of the Sixties I'd forgotten ... surely it is better to have been a failed idealist than never one at all? Her book made me feel proud to be a Sixties relic (Lynn Barber Daily Telegraph 2009-06-27)

This book at once recalls the decade in a way that those who experienced it will recognise and is a singular rethink of that time. Diski is not polemical or doctrinaire. Her writing is calm and wry and her gift is for thinking about the Sixties as if they were happening now, as if they were an ambiguous present ... One of the many pleasures of her writing is that she somehow manages to be old and young at the same time ... Involving, buoyant, thought-provoking (Kate Kellaway Observer 2009-06-28)

Diski was in at the deep end, involved with almost all the trends and fashons ... Her testimony comes as close as any to frontline reporting of what was going on. And what was going on was serious ... Diski's life catches the full flavour. Yet she survived the mayhem to become a wise and sceptical judge.

This is as excellent and honest a guide as you will find through the myths and often misremembered days.

(Joan Bakewell The Times 2009-07-11)

Stimulating (Peter Lewis Daily Mail 2009-06-26)

[Diski] is excellent on that sense of wilful rebellion. No one has written better about the contempt with which the counter-culture viewed the 'straight' world ... her mixture of hard-won experience and intelligent reflection sets her study well beyond the clichés (Andrew Lycett Sunday Telegraph 2009-06-28)

The Sixties is a valuable reference book and compendium; Diski cites and quotes most of the important movers and wits of the time. For those of us who were there too, it is solid, dry material to dilute with our own memories. And stir (Irma Kurtz Guardian 2009-07-04)

She says it with intelligence, wit, an eye for detail and an ability to laugh at her young self... Ms Diski leaves you with plenty to think about, and wanting more. (International Herald Tribune 2009-08-29)

Irresistible ... warm, witty, wryly provocative ... a funny, charming book, notable among memoirs of the period for being neither obdurately defensive about the Sixites' nonsense, nor melodramatically regretful about its excesses (Andrew Mueller The Times)

It's a measure of her brilliant style and searching inquiry that the reader is left demanding her next instalment (Listener, New Zealand 2009-09-26)


'The Sixties is Diski at her most characteristically brilliant' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Personal but objective account of an era 21 April 2010
Jenny Diski is a distinguished writer and some of her novels are powerful and dark evocations of people under pressure. Here by contrast she offers a witty and shrewd account of the 1960's seen from a personal perspective. She was born in 1947 and speaks of the period under scrutiny at first hand. The book is objective and highly informative history. Some chapters are rather bleak largely because she feels that as one gets older one becomes increasingly frustrated at no longer being able to influence events. She also feels as many of us born around the same time as the author that many of the hopes and opportunities which characterised the 1960's have been disappointed or squandered - sometimes by our own attitudes and actions both then and later.

The book is admirably concise and extremely well written. An accurate and sharply critical evocation of the period.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great overview of the sixties 24 Nov 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really loved this book and I read it very quickly. It is a personal account of the times with much pointed reflection about what was happening in the wider context. The book is cut into chapters tackling subjects such as attitudes to sex, consumerism, work, education, drug taking, protest and mental health. I found Diski's analysis illuminating and found that it shed a lot of light on my own attitudes and beliefs, having been born in the period she is talking about. It also at the end makes an analysis about the period's liberalism and ideals and todays. Wonderful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thanks for a personal view...... 7 Dec 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
At last Ive found a book that gives a personal view from a baby boomer that draws from personal and detailed experience, rather than from informed sources that will inevitably give an overview.
She looks at her privileged time in the 60s ( and believe me - it was a privileged time - free university education, high disposable income, the easy opportunity for social mobility etc) with a little embarrassment at how she thought she could change the world, along with a large clutch of youth, and also a little humour. Time must have tempered that sixties seriousness.......
It always bemuses me how many young people today say how they would like a time machine to enable them to go back to an era once golden, but were born too late. For those very youngsters who want to know what it was like for the ordinary person in the street, whether they lived at the hub of it all in London - or the provinces, Diski's book will give a good insight. You dont need to read the 500 page encyclopaedic political, social and economic "history lesson" super tomes for that.
Diski's book is a different slant on the current baby boomer literary reminiscences made all the more enjoyable because its written by a genuine "Sixties Chick" !
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly incisive and thought-provoking 3 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Really gets under the skin of all aspects, politically and emotional, of the sixties generation. Addresses questions of education and politics and places them in the context of the twentieth century society. Fascinating reading.
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