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In this compelling and freewheeling account, Kirkpatrick (The Words and Music of Bruce Springsteen) treats the tumultuous events of 1969 with the skills of a journalist, a historian, a sociologist, and a sportswriter and manages to insert moments of lightness and triviality into his grand tour. He writes as easily about jazz-pop as about the rise of the American Indian Movement. He follows a harrowing chapter about the Manson family and the Zodiac Killer with a breathless report on the Amazin' Mets. Later, he describes the surreal convergence of Game 4 of the World Series with the National Moratorium Day against the Vietnam War. In Kirkpatrick's account, Joe Namath receives more attention than Spiro Agnew. This is not a definitive, scholarly study of the year's events, but it serves well as a primer on the condition of American life at the end of the 1960s. In addition to over 500 endnotes, Kirkpatrick provides a handy time line of the year's significant events. Nostalgic for some, revelatory for others, this is a worthy addition to the literature of the 1960s.
—Thomas A. Karel