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Berkeley, California, was the bellwether of the political, social, and cultural upheaval that made the 1960s a unique period of American history—a time when the top-down methods of a conservative establishment collided head-on with the bottom-up, grass-roots ethos of the civil rights movement and an increasingly well-educated and individualistic middle class.
W.J. Rorabaugh, who attended the graduate school of the University of California at Berkeley in the early 1970s, presents a lively and informative account of the events that overtook and changed forever what had once been a quiet, conservative white suburb. The rise of the Free Speech Movement, which gave a voice to disfranchised students; the growth and increasing militance of a black community struggling to end segregation; the emergence of radicalism and the anti-war movement; the blossoming of "hippie" culture, with its scorn for materialism and enthusiasm for experimentation with everything from sex and drugs to Eastern philosophies; the beginnings of modern-day feminism and environmentalism—and how all of these coalesced in the explosive conflict over People's Park—are traced in a meticulously researched and authoritative narrative.
At issue was the question of power, and the struggle between the establishment and the powerless led to developments that the advocates of a freer society could scarcely have foreseen: Ronald Reagan, elected governor of California in reaction to the events at Berkeley, and Edwin H. Meese III, who battled against the student movement and People's Park, rose to national power in the 1980s (without, however, gaining any popularity in Berkeley, where Walter Mondale won 83 percent of the vote in 1984). An invaluable account of its time and place, this book anchors the '60s in American history, both before and since that colorful decade.
This vividly narrated history examines the Free Speech Movement, black militants, the emerging anti-war movement, and more.