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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 1968 And All That, 5 May 2010
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This review is from: 1968: The Year that Rocked the World (Paperback)
Mark Kurlansky has set himself the task of writing the history of 1968, a year of rock n roll n rebellions. Much of the focus of the book is on the student movements that erupted across the world, principally in France, the United States, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Mexico and Germany, though Kurlansky still finds room to deal with the Vietnam War, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, the war in Biafra, as well as topics such as feminism, and the popular philosophy and literature of the era.

Kurlansky writes in a crisp readable prose, the sections that cover the student movements in the various countries appear to have been covered in a reasonably impartial and thorough manner, though the focus on student movements does seem to be a little overdone for a book that claims to be a history of the whole year. The perversity of this is quite clear when one considers that the actuality of the Vietnam War receives far less coverage than the anti-war movement in the United States and such coverage as there is gives little idea of the reality of that war. The troubles in Northern Ireland receive zero coverage, as does South Africa. Latin American, African, and Asian (the cultural revolution in China is graced with a few paragraphs) coverage is primarily focussed on a single country in each continent: Mexico, Biafra and Vietnam. And then there is the big problem I had with this book . . .

Ever seen the The Big Lebowski? In that brilliant film by the brothers Coen there is a character called Walter, the Big Lebowski's bowling buddy. No matter what the subject under discussion is, Walter manages to bring it back to the issue of `Nam. Kurlansky's `Nam is Zionism and Israel.

Firstly there appears to be a problem with emphasis, for example there are well over twenty mentions (often of multiple pages) in the index for Zionism, Anti-Zionism, Anti-Semitism and Judaism. In way of comparison the total for Muslims, Islam and Arabs is zero. That problem of emphasis is a relatively minor one in comparison to the out-right lying and propaganda that serves for Kurlansky's coverage of the Middle East. For him Palestinians don't exist as a people, except as terrorists; anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are synonyms; Israel offered back the land it invaded and occupied in 1967 in return for peace; the Israeli government had nothing to do with the settlement of the occupied territories, etcetera, etc. And Kurlansky's source for all this wisdom? In the bibliography section we have one book covering the Middle East, Michael Oren's Six Days of War. Who is Michael Oren? Currently he is Likud prime minister Netenyahu's man in Washington. The only other "scholar" mentioned is the intensely partisan Zionist Walter Laquer.

Without Kurlansky's nonsense on Israel and Zionism this would be a reasonable book on the Student movements of 1968; not a deep or profound book on that year, but rather on the level of a good television documentary series. With the nonsense, the book is a disgrace and certainly doesn't deserve the back page blurb from Uncut magazine ("combining the rigour of a historian"). To put it mildly, "1968: The year that rocked the world", was a disappointing read.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 23 May 2010 09:11:30 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 Jul 2011 15:00:00 BDT
Very good truth based review. The pro-Zionist/anti-Muslim bias entrenched within the Western World's media/publishing industries is now so blatant as to be almost embarrassing to anyone with any genuine experience of the Islamic World. Normann G Finkelstein has published an excellent book:- The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering which reveals the financial/political motivation behind this manipulation of the truth. I am sure you will enjoy it and await your review with interest. I have considered reviewing it myself but have been subject to a campaign of harrassment by ill-informed but self-styled anti-Nazis recently. Fortunately Amazon sorted it out but I'd prefer not to ruffle any more feathers for a while.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2010 14:44:01 BDT
S Wood says:
Thank you for your comment. Though it is by Norman G. Finkelstein not Gordon!! I have read his book though it was before I reviewed for Amazon, though I have reviewed his Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-semitism and the Abuse of History.

Posted on 6 Dec 2013 03:01:22 GMT
Miketang says:
It's meant to be a broad brush stroke comment on the whole year, not a history of the Vietnam War. As for all the guff about Islam, get real. The Israelis have been forced into a war footing by serial sneak attacks by the adjacent states. Oh, it's only coincidental they are 99% Islamic of course, no anti-semitism involved at all

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Dec 2013 13:09:27 GMT
S Wood says:
Go forth and read a real book on the Arab-Israeli conflict such as Avi Shlaims The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World it will save you indignity of spouting tired old partisan cliches that just don't wash anymore.

Your comment on the Vietnam war is exagerates my criticism somewhat... I dont expect the book to be a history of the American war on Vietnam but I would expect a book that claims to cover the whole year of uprisings and does cover the anti war movement in the United States to give some space to what was actually happening in Vietnam itself.
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