Amidst the recent flourishing of Sixties scholarship, Imagine Nation is the first collection to focus solely on the counterculture. Its fourteen provocative essays seek to unearth the complexity and rediscover the society-changing power of significant movements and figures.
This deep and detailed work examines the many elements of the American counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s. Its underlying theme is the rejection by mainly young but also older people of prevailing political, social, and cultural norms through experimentation with drugs, sex, music, and identity to construct alternative ways of life. The 14 essays, written by academics and journalists, are arranged into sections covering cultural politics, racial and sexual identity, the media and popular culture, the deconditioning of the human mind through drugs and feminist consciousness-raising, and alternative visions of society based on technology and communal living. Each section opens with a brief essay covering the major themes appearing in its chapters. Editors Braunstein and Doyle, who are both journalists, open the work with an excellent essay critical of both romantic and conservative views of the 1960s and stressing the need for strict historical analysis for a better understanding of the period. Particularly good essays include David Farber's study of drug use and David E. James's chapter on film. This is not an easy read, but it marks a major reexamination of the period. A good complement to The Sixties: From Meaning to History (Univ. of North Carolina, 1994) and Sights on the Sixties (Rutgers Univ., 1992. reprint); recommended for academic libraries. Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia Univ., Parkersburg Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Peter Braunstein is a journalist and cultural historian based in New York City. He writes about fashion, film, celebrity, the 1960s, music, technology, and pop culture for such publications as the Village Voice, Forbes,American Heritage, the Chronicle of Higher Education,Women's Wear Daily, W, and culturefront. He received his M.A. from New York University in 1992, having written a thesis on the Haight-Ashbury counterculture. Michael William Doyle worked in the new-wave food co-op movement during the 1970s while living communally on an organic farm he helped found in Wisconsin. He went on to earn a B.A. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1989), and a Ph.D. at Cornell University (1997). He is currently Assistant Professor of History at Ball State University at Muncie, Indiana. He is the author of FreeRadicals: The Haight-Ashbury Diggers and the AmericanCounterculture in the 1960s.