The Sixties Unplugged: A Kaleidoscopic History of a Disorderly Decade

The Sixties Unplugged: A Kaleidoscopic History of a Disorderly Decade

3.3 3
by Gerard J. DeGroot

ISBN-10: 0674034635

ISBN-13: 9780674034631

Pub. Date: 03/30/2010

Publisher: Harvard

“If you remember the Sixties,” quipped Robin Williams, “you weren’t there.” That was, of course, an oblique reference to the mind-bending drugs that clouded perception—yet time has proven an equally effective hallucinogen. This book revisits the Sixties we forgot or somehow failed to witness. In a kaleidoscopic global tour of the

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“If you remember the Sixties,” quipped Robin Williams, “you weren’t there.” That was, of course, an oblique reference to the mind-bending drugs that clouded perception—yet time has proven an equally effective hallucinogen. This book revisits the Sixties we forgot or somehow failed to witness. In a kaleidoscopic global tour of the decade, Gerard DeGroot reminds us that the “Ballad of the Green Beret” outsold “Give Peace a Chance,” that the Students for a Democratic Society were outnumbered by Young Americans for Freedom, that revolution was always a pipe dream, and that the Sixties belong to Reagan and de Gaulle more than to Kennedy and Dubcek.

The Sixties Unplugged shows how opportunity was squandered, and why nostalgia for the decade has obscured sordidness and futility. DeGroot returns us to a time in which idealism, tolerance, and creativity gave way to cynicism, chauvinism, and materialism. He presents the Sixties as a drama acted out on stages around the world, a theater of the absurd in which China’s Cultural Revolution proved to be the worst atrocity of the twentieth century, the Six-Day War a disaster for every nation in the Middle East, and a million slaughtered Indonesians martyrs to greed.

The Sixties Unplugged restores to an era the prevalent disorder and inconvenient truths that longing, wistfulness, and distance have obscured. In an impressionistic journey through a tumultuous decade, DeGroot offers an object lesson in the distortions nostalgia can create as it strives to impose order on memory and value on mayhem.

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction

  • Torgau: A Brief Moment of Sanity
  • At Home: The Generation Gap

  • On the Airwaves: Transistor Radios
  • San Francisco: A Collection of Angels
  • Howling at the World
  • Worcester: The Pill
  • The Congo: Democracy Murdered
  • The Old Bailey: Lady Chatterley on trial
  • Washington: New Frontiers

Hard Rain
  • Sharpeville: Apartheid Is a Way of Death
  • Bay of Pigs: It Seemed Like a Good Idea
  • Berlin: The Wall
  • Ap Bac: Bad News from a Place Called Vietnam
  • Novaya Zemlya and Cuba: Big Bombs

All Gone to Look for America
  • Albany and Birmingham: Lessons of Nonviolence
  • Port Huron: Students for a Democratic Society
  • Washington: I Have a Dream
  • Arlington National Cemetery: Kennedy and Vietnam

Call Out the Instigators
  • Duxbury: Rachel Carson
  • Harlem: Malcolm X
  • Havana: Che
  • Miami: The Greatest
  • Chelsea: Mary Quant

Universal Soldiers
  • Tonkin Gulf: Carte Blanche
  • Sinai: The Six-Day War
  • Biafra: The Problem of Africa
  • Guangxi Province: Cannibals for Mao

And in the Streets . . .
  • Margate: Mods versus Rockers
  • Watts: Long Hot Summer
  • Berkeley: Free Speech
  • Amsterdam: Provo Pioneers
  • Selma: Black Power

Sex, Drugs, and Rock ’n’ Roll
  • Millbrook: Acid Dreams
  • In Bed: Sex and Love
  • Liverpool: The Beatles
  • Manchester: The Battle for Bob Dylan
  • Woodstock: A Festival Yes; A Nation No

Everybody Get Together
  • Sharon: Young Americans for Freedom
  • London: Love Is All You Need
  • San Francisco: It’s Free Because It’s Yours!
  • Greenwich Village: Yippie!
  • Oakland: The Black Panthers
  • Delano: Boycott Grapes

Turn, Turn, Turn
  • Saigon: Tet
  • Atlantic City: From Miss America to Ms. World
  • Greenwich Village: Stonewall
  • San Francisco: Summer of Rape

Gone to Graveyards
  • Memphis: The Death of King
  • Prague: Short Spring
  • Los Angeles: The Death of Hope
  • Mexico City: Shooting Students

You Say You Want a Revolution?
  • Berlin: Rudi the Red
  • New York: Up against the Wall, Motherfucker!
  • Paris: Absurdists Revolt
  • London: A Very British Revolution

Wilted Flowers
  • Vatican: Humanae Vitae
  • Mayfair: Casualties of the Cultural Revolution
  • People’s Park: The Future in a Vacant Lot
  • San Diego: A Burning Desire to End the War

Meet the New Boss
  • Jakarta: A Perfect Little Coup
  • Hollywood: Takin’ Care of Business
  • Los Angeles: A Goddamned Electable Person
  • St. Louis: Curt Flood versus Baseball

No Direction Home
  • Altamont: The Day the Music Died
  • Chappaquiddick: A Career Drowned
  • The Moon: Magnificent Desolation
  • Greenwich Village: You Don’t Need a Weatherman
  • Old Bailey: Another Obscenity Trial

  • Epitaph: It’s Life’s Illusions I Recall

  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

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The Sixties Unplugged: A Kaleidoscopic History of a Disorderly Decade 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Barbu More than 1 year ago
In the last year I read about twenty books covering post WWII period. Majority of them focused on the three decades that changed the way we live, think and connect with family, friends and strangers. Sixties unplugged is one of the best in its geographical coverage and intelligent explanation of events. The author gives enough information and at the same time connects all the disparate facts such that the decade’s canvas, so disruptive and exciting, can be admired, judged and learned from even by those who have less knowledge of the period. As for the author’s, and thus the book’s, political leanings I think that every text can be accused of being ideologically skewed – it is in the eyes of the reader to whom, in the end, the skewing belongs.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The Sixties Unplugged' by Gerard DeGroot is a survey of a controversial decade with both considerable strengths and weaknesses. DeGroot is good at seeing past the blinkers of both the Right and the Left and he is good at seeing the various relationships between technological change and social change. He is excellent at pointing out the relatively ignored parts of sixties history. There are good accounts here of the Bay of Pigs, the raising of the Berlin Wall, the Six Day War, Biafra, and the genocidal slaughter in Indonesia. He is fairly good at capturing the growth and contradictions of feminism, Black Power, and the New Left. I think his look at the Young Americans for Freedom is interesting, but they are not as significant as DeGroot seems to think. The absurdist movement in Holland was an interesting portion of this book. He paints the horrors of life under Mao in China with an unsparing eye, pointing out how some of the more extreme admirers of Mao had sentimental delusions about what was going on there. The butchery and the inhumanity in China at this time are chillingly captured. DeGroot's handle on popular culture is rather less certain, however. His look at the Mods versus the Rockers wars in England seems to me incomplete or sketchy. While DeGroot is unsentimental about the 'myth' of Woodstock, he seems to give the music unconditional positive regard - I think even sympathetic listeners found the music at Woodstock to be an uneven set -Sha Na Na anyone? - at best. DeGroot correctly points out the role George Martin had in 'manufacturing' the Beatles, but seems to think the Beatles asserted their own creativity over the influence of Martin as time marched on. Debatable, surely. He oddly uses Ricky Nelson as an example of a manufactured rock star. Ricky Nelson is widely respected in rockabilly circles and by rock historians. He couldn't sing? What about Jagger at Altamont? Fabian would have been a better example of a manufactured rock star - he was literally pulled off the street and made a rock star even though he had never sung before just because he looked like a rock star. He couldn't sing either, but I perhaps perversely persist in thinking Fabian rocks. What DeGroot says about the Monkees is just plain wrong. He claims that Davy Jones was an actor who wanted to sing when he joined the Monkees. In point of fact, Davy Jones had already recorded a musical album before he even joined the Monkees. I know because I own that album - I bought it at a hospital thrift store. I don't think any actor who has already recorded an album qualifies as an actor who 'wants' to sing. I have no idea what Mickey Dolenz did before the Monkees. I would suggest DeGroot's research here is, to put it politely, sloppy. The stuff on Hendrix is sketchy and does little to conjure up the man and why he mattered to so many people. On the whole, I recommend this book, however guardedly. I think DeGroot gets carried away with his own rhetorical flow at times, but it does make it quite readable. I don't think this is a right-wing gloss on history. DeGroot seems to poke at the delusions of both sides to my eye. For anyone wanting a general overview of the decade, this is a good start. I would be careful about citing it in academic contexts, however. DeGroot has prepared an interesting dish - some of it goes down well, but some of it maybe should have been cooked longer. Greg Cameron, Surrey, B.C., Canada
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a standard conservative rewrite.Instead of any kind of balanced view of the events that made the '60s,DeGroot instead focuses on the blemishes of high profile personalities.Typical of this is DeGroot's depiction of The March on Washington as just a sentimental get together of detached pampered liberals.At the same time he devotes limitless praise for Young Americans for Freedom,the creation of National Review creator,William Buckley.The pop art cover is a thin disguise for silly condemnation of events by an obvious righty. By half way I was bored and when I finished I felt like I had watched 'Showgirls' one too many times.