The Shattering: America in the 1960s

The Shattering: America in the 1960s

by Kevin Boyle
The Shattering: America in the 1960s

The Shattering: America in the 1960s

by Kevin Boyle


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A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the Year

From the National Book Award winner, a masterful history of the decade whose conflicts shattered America’s postwar order and divide us still.

On July 4, 1961, the rising middle-class families of a Chicago neighborhood gathered before their flag-bedecked houses, a confident vision of the American Dream. That vision was shattered over the following decade, its inequities at home and arrogance abroad challenged by powerful civil rights and antiwar movements. Assassinations, social violence, and the blowback of a “silent majority” shredded the American fabric.

Covering the late 1950s through the early 1970s, The Shattering focuses on the period’s fierce conflicts over race, sex, and war. The civil rights movement develops from the grassroots activism of Montgomery and the sit-ins, through the violence of Birmingham and the Edmund Pettus Bridge, to the frustrations of King’s Chicago campaign, a rising Black nationalism, and the Nixon-era politics of busing and the Supreme Court. The Vietnam war unfolds as Cold War policy, high-stakes politics buffeted by powerful popular movements, and searing in-country experience. Americans’ challenges to government regulation of sexuality yield landmark decisions on privacy rights, gay rights, contraception, and abortion.

Kevin Boyle captures the inspiring and brutal events of this passionate time with a remarkable empathy that restores the humanity of those making this history. Often they are everyday people like Elizabeth Eckford, enduring a hostile crowd outside her newly integrated high school in Little Rock, or Estelle Griswold, welcoming her arrest for dispensing birth control information in a Connecticut town. Political leaders also emerge in revealing detail: we track Richard Nixon’s inheritances from Eisenhower and his debt to George Wallace, who forged a message of racism mixed with blue-collar grievance that Nixon imported into Republicanism.

The Shattering illuminates currents that still run through our politics. It is a history for our times.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393355994
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 10/26/2021
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 1,107,828
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Kevin Boyle is the author of Arc of Justice, winner of the National Book Award and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is William Smith Mason Professor of American History at Northwestern University and lives in Evanston, Illinois.


Bexley, Ohio

Date of Birth:

October 7, 1960

Place of Birth:

Detroit, Michigan


B.A., University of Detroit, 1982; M.A., University of Michigan, 1984; Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1990

Table of Contents

Preface xi

1 Eddy Street 1

2 Twilight Wars 44

3 The Beloved Community 79

4 The Dead 118

5 Bending 138

6 The Revolutions of 1965 172

7 Turning and Turning 200

8 Waist Deep in the Big MUddy 233

9 The Cruelest Months 266

10 Nobodies 305

11 Coming Home 343

Epilogue 383

Acknowledgments 393

Note on Sources 399

Notes 413

Index 431

Illustrations follow pages 138 and 266

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