1959: The Year Everything Changed [NOOK Book]

Overview

A Washington Post Best Book of 2009

"Fascinating . . . a cabinet of wonders. . . . Those who love the AMC series Mad Men, set just after the epochal year, will find much to love in Kaplan's book."
Los Angeles Times

"Clever . . . Fun . . . Kaplan makes an intriguing case that 1959 was an authentic annus mirabellis."
The Wall Street Journal

"Enormously engaging. . . . Kaplan ...

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1959: The Year Everything Changed

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Overview

A Washington Post Best Book of 2009

"Fascinating . . . a cabinet of wonders. . . . Those who love the AMC series Mad Men, set just after the epochal year, will find much to love in Kaplan's book."
Los Angeles Times

"Clever . . . Fun . . . Kaplan makes an intriguing case that 1959 was an authentic annus mirabellis."
The Wall Street Journal

"Enormously engaging. . . . Kaplan is wonderful at chronicling what changed and how."
Washington Post

"Immensely enjoyable reading. . . . A first-rate book."
George Packer, The New Yorker

"This sprawling, holistic joy of a book explores, expands, and provokes reassessment of an entire era—not just a year—in a way that is deeply satisfying and enlightening. Social, political, and historical commentary doesn't get much better than this."
Daily Kos

It was the year of the microchip, the birth-control pill, the space race, and the computer revolution; the rise of Pop art, free jazz, "sick comics," the New Journalism, and indie films; the emergence of Castro, Malcolm X, and personal superpower diplomacy; the beginnings of Motown, Happenings, and the Generation Gap—all bursting against the backdrop of the Cold War, the fallout-shelter craze, and the first American casualties of the war in Vietnam. Drawing on original research, untapped archives, and interviews with major figures of the time, Fred Kaplan pieces together the vast, untold story of a civilization in flux—and paints vivid portraits of the men and women whose inventions, ideas, and energy paved the way for the world we know today.

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Editorial Reviews

Charles Kaiser
In the pantheon of pivotal years…1959 hasn't previously rated a mention. But Fred Kaplan's energetic and engaging new book makes a convincing case for its importance…Anyone old enough to remember the '50s will be astonished to discover how many revolutionary seeds were sewn in the final year of that decade. Others who read 1959 will get a compelling and concise lesson in American social, cultural and political history.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Slate columnist Kaplan takes a contrarian view to the common wisdom that the '60s were the source of the cultural shift from pre-WWII traditions to the individualistic, question-authority world of today. In Kaplan's view, the watershed year in this transformation is 1959. He delves into that year's cultural and political scene, citing Miles Davis and his revolutionary album Kind of Blue; William Burroughs and his equally revolutionary novel, Naked Lunch; and the opening of Frank Lloyd Wright's radically designed Guggenheim Museum in New York City as examples of fundamental breaks with past conventions. Kaplan's case is cemented by three 1959 events that he convincingly argues were catalysts for paradigm changes in relationships between men and women (the pharmaceutical company Searle sought FDA approval for the birth control pill), in how citizens view their government (the first American soldiers were killed in Vietnam) and in communications and information transfer (the microchip was introduced to the world). Kaplan doesn't quite convince that 1959 was "the year when the shockwaves of the new ripped the seams of daily life," but his writing is lively and filled with often funny anecdotes as he examines some key elements in the transition from the mid to late 20th century. 16 b&w photos. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
* "Immensely enjoyable reading... a first-rate book… You'd be amazed how much stuff was going on in the unpromising year 1959, and how it all comes under the heading of breaking the chains of the old and embracing the new... [Kaplan]'s a sort of wonky hipster, a type that subsumes and coalesces almost all of the characters — physicists, poets, jazz musicians, astronomers — who set America on fire at the end of the Eisenhower decade, and who people 1959, Kaplan's new book, which puts all of his passions between hard covers." (The New Yorker)

"Kaplan's premise is certainly a good one. He's arguing that the real fulcrum of the 20th century and beyond is not — as many argue — the 1960s, but the unsung '50s. Those who love the AMC series "Mad Men," set just after the epochal year, will find much to love in Kaplan's book." (Los Angeles Times, July 19, 2009)

“Kaplan makes an intriguing case that 1959 was an authentic annus mirabellis.” (Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2009)

"Where he really shines is in his ability to capture longer-term trends in the snapshot of the year.... In Kaplan's careful interpretation of the year, 1959—even aside from its headline scientific and cultural milestones—was a simmering cauldron of innovation and change, with superficial conformity and false shallows hiding the depths beneath." (DailyKos)

“This sprawling, holistic joy of a book explores, expands and provokes reassessment of an entire era—not just a year—in a way that is deeply satisfying and enlightening.” (dailykos.com, June 7, 2009)

Slate columnist Kaplan takes a contrarian view to the common wisdom that the '60s were the source of the cultural shift from pre-WWII traditions to the individualistic, question-authority world of today. In Kaplan's view, the watershed year in this transformation is 1959. He delves into that year's cultural and political scene, citing Miles Davis and his revolutionary album Kind of Blue; William Burroughs and his equally revolutionary novel, Naked Lunch; and the opening of Frank Lloyd Wright's radically designed Guggenheim Museum in New York City as examples of fundamental breaks with past conventions. Kaplan's case is cemented by three 1959 events that he convincingly argues were catalysts for paradigm changes in relationships between men and women (the pharmaceutical company Searle sought FDA approval for the birth control pill), in how citizens view their government (the first American soldiers were killed in Vietnam) and in communications and information transfer (the microchip was introduced to the world). Kaplan doesn't quite convince that 1959 was “the year when the shockwaves of the new ripped the seams of daily life,” but his writing is lively and filled with often funny anecdotes as he examines some key elements in the transition from the mid to late 20th century. 16 b&w photos. (July) (Publishers Weekly, May 4, 2009)

The Barnes & Noble Review
Those of us who weren't yet born in 1959 might think of that year as being pretty much the same as any other. And for all I know, those of you who lived through it do, too. But in 1959: The Year Everything Changed, Fred Kaplan, who writes Slate's "War Stories" column, contends that it was "the year when the shockwaves of the new ripped the seams of daily life, when humanity stepped into the cosmos and also commandeered the conception of human life, when the world shrank but the knowledge needed to thrive in it expanded exponentially...when everything was changing and everyone knew it -- when the world as we now know it began to take form." Kaplan lays out the evidence to support his claim in 25 highly readable chapters, covering everything from Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and the Beats to the space race and the "missile gap" to the civil rights struggle and the advent of the birth control pill and the microchip. And that's just to name a few areas that Kaplan points out as having had watershed moments in 1959. "The truly pivotal moments of history are those whose legacies endure," he writes. "And...it is the events of 1959 that continue to resonate in our own time." After all, as Kaplan indicates, without the microchip, introduced by Texas Instruments on March 24, 1959, where would the Internet, cell phones, and laptops come in? And without the Pill, for which FDA approval was sought on July 23, 1959, how different would our family structures -- and women's lives -- look today? Chilling thought. Let's hear it for 1959. --Amy Reiter
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470730270
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 5/27/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 580,003
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Fred M. Kaplan
Fred Kaplan is a columnist for Slate and a frequent contributor to the New York Times, New York magazine, and other publications. A former reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner for the Boston Globe, he is also the author of Daydream Believers and coauthor of The Wizards of Armageddon. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Brooke Gladstone.
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Table of Contents

Timeline.

1 Breaking the Chains.

2 A Visitor from the East.

3 The Philosopher of Hip.

4 Generations Howling.

5 The Cosmonaut of Inner Space.

6 The End of Obscenity.

7 Sickniks.

8 Thinking about the Unthinkable.

9 The Race for Space.

10 Toppling the Tyranny of Numbers.

11 The Assault on the Chord.

12 Revolutionary Euphoria.

13 Breaking the Logjam, Hitting the Wall.

14 The Frontier’s Dark Side.

15 The New Language of Diplomacy.

16 Sparking the Powder Keg.

17 Civilizations in the Stars.

18 A Great Upward Swoop of Movement.

19 Blurring Art and Life.

20 Seeing the Invisible.

21 The Off-Hollywood Movie.

22 The Shape of Jazz to Come.

23 Dancing in the Streets.

24 Andromeda Freed from Her Chains.

25 New Frontiers.

Acknowledgments.

Notes.

Credits.

Index.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2010

    looks good

    this book looks amazing cant wait to read

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    Posted May 21, 2011

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