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on 25 December 2015
nice book about the sixties. It's definitely a different, wider opinion on such a mythological period. The reason why I'm giving 4 and not 5 stars is because sometimes the writer describe an episode in one chapter and then reopens the same episode in other chapters, like if he's jumping around between episodes and then going back. I prefer books that describe entirely an argument/episode and then pass on to the next one.
However this is my personal preference.
I would really recommend to read this book as it covers the sixties quite extensively.
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on 4 December 2011
The author contends that the Sixties were not as some rose tinted spectacle wearers would have it - peace and love, an unprecedented freedom for youth, opportunities aplenty etc - and that some serious damage went down in the form of violence, tin pot dictatorships, civil riots, assassinations etc.
While that may be true, the 1960s were actually how the people who lived through it, see and remember the decade. Most of youth were not politically interested, nor interested in the country's economy. their accent firmly fixed on the social upheaval taking place of which they were active in.
While some of the events the author chooses to cover are well remembered. they are only so in an "association" sort of way. The real 1960s for me went down at the micro. everyday level - and thats the 1960s that the rose tinters actually went through, remembered and loved.
That said, Degroots book is enjoyable and a trip back to Nostalgia Central - albeit in a different dimension of The Golden Decade.
I recommend it.
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on 14 April 2012
enjoyed reading the seventies - which I knew more about. really enjoyed this as it is one step further back so lots more has been forgotten or only hazily remembered. so it brings lots of it back, again in really useful bite sized chunks. you don't have to read on and on if the subject doesn't interest you. after a few pages it will be something else. that's why, again, I think these books would be great for school kids who need to know more recent history but don't have the best attention spans (perhaps) and want a really broard look at lots of world events. Finally, just like the seventies, if you get depressed by today's headlines just read these books. It's all happened before. we've been through it all before. violence, problems, bad things - as a nation and as a world we do seem to get through them and survive. so there is plenty of room for optimism!
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on 27 April 2014
De Groot’s aim is to de-romanticise the 60s - the hippies were self-indulgent druggies, political protesters were deluded fantasists, the Woodstock and Isle of Wight festivals were disappointing failures and the politics were just disastrous. He re-names “the summer of love” as “the summer of rape”. In fact he has nothing positive at all to say about the decade, apart from a sneeking admiration for the Provo movement of Amsterdam (and I thought that maybe this betrayed his origins, but he is in fact Californian by birth)
Most of the book concentrates on the American experience of the decade but when he strays into an analysis of Britain, his knowledge seems to be lacking. For example, when referring to the Isle of Wight Festival of 1969, he says it was “undiluted nightmare. Far from being a love-in, it was a cash-in....disgusting hot dogs at exorbitant prices...the latrines stank”. This is middle-class, middle-aged nonsense. For the average teenager, the festival was all that could be expected. Every big name in the contemporary rock world put on a wonderful performance, the only disappointment at the time being Dylan himself who was suitably enigmatic. And the standards of the toilets and hot-dogs seem the strangest criteria to be judging any cultural event.
Similarly, De Groot seems oddly ill-informed when it comes to commenting on British student protest during the 1960s. “At most British universities protests were infrequent, small and invariably peaceful.The one exception was the LSE”. I am not sure that Patrick Wall, MP for Haltemprice, would agree. He and his wife were attacked at Leeds University and he was subject to vicious demonstrations when he attempted to speak at Warwick, York and Southampton universities because he was regarded as a “racist” and a Powellite. There were many disruptive sit-ins during 1968-69 on many issues and it would have been instructive if De Groot had recognised this and commented on how university administrations learnt to deal with future troubles.
Despite these reservations, this book is enjoyable and well-written but the overwhelming lesson I have learnt from it is that historians are as biased as newspapers or governments when it comes to describing the past and there really is no such thing as an objective historical overview.
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on 29 April 2014
Bought this book to use as reference for an essay. Found the information to not be accurate. Showed this to a relative who was a teenager in the 60's who also found this book inaccurate.
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on 16 December 2008
A superb antidote to the rose-tinted view of the 60s often trotted out in the media. I lived through the 60s and a lot of what deGroot writes is spot on, especially his view that many of the movements at that time were deeply sexist. I've always felt that the 60s led to the infantilisation of subsequent generations and that much of the radicalism and protest had at its root a 'me me me' philosophy about as sophisticated as that of your average obsterporous 4-year-old. This book has done nothing to change my mind.

By the way, contrary to what another reviewer writes, Ben and Jerry DO do an ice cream called Cherry Guevara. It states on the container, "The revolutionary struggle of the cherries was squashed as they were trapped between two layers of chocolate. May their memory live on in your mouth." As you finish the ice cream you're left with a wooden stick with the words "We will bite to the end!"
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on 25 April 2014
Excellent reading for the sixties buffs. It does challenge quite a lot of myths created about that decade and gives good information all round
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on 4 October 2014
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on 16 September 2008
deGroot's kaleidoscope approach is really interesting and one of the reasons I picked up this book. He takes different aspects of the 60s, loosely groups them together and then writes about particular events/people/subjects in short essays, so there's no straight chronological history writing as such.

He picks up on things that are perhaps less explored in other histories but strangely makes a few glaring omissions, in particular the Manson murders at the end of the decade. This is one of the pivotal events, from the point of view of the 60s hippie idyll going horribly wrong and ushering in a much darker time in the 70s. He could have certainly put it in after his essay about Altamont. Curious as to why he didn't.

deGroot writes angrily about the shortcomings of the people in the 60s - and he finds plenty. When he writes about the free love and drugs culture starting out as a means of true political protest and then becoming not a means to an end but the end itself, he has very interesting and valid points, but they are often written with what seems like a chip on his shoulder.

One extremely annoying thing about this book is when he is writing about the commercialisation of Che Guevara and he spikily writes about Ben & Jerry naming an ice cream after him - Cherry Guevara. Um, no, that would be Cherry Garcia, after the leader of the Grateful Dead. Two totally different people. Just puts the seed of doubt in my mind - what else did he get wrong that I wouldn't know about? And why didn't an editor or fact-checker pick that up?

It's a good book to introduce you to aspects of the 60s that are perhaps being overlooked that you might want to research yourself elsewhere.
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on 23 August 2009
This book is well worth a read for anyone who is interested in the 1960s. Whilst there is no doubt that this decade brought about many major changes it also gave birth to a large amount of myths. Gerald DeGroot does a great job in debunking these myths. The book is written with more than a hint of cynicism and is both informative and easy to read.
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