The Times They Were a-Changin': 1964, the Year the Sixties Arrived and the Battle Lines of Today Were Drawn

The Times They Were a-Changin': 1964, the Year the Sixties Arrived and the Battle Lines of Today Were Drawn

by Robert S McElvaine
The Times They Were a-Changin': 1964, the Year the Sixties Arrived and the Battle Lines of Today Were Drawn

The Times They Were a-Changin': 1964, the Year the Sixties Arrived and the Battle Lines of Today Were Drawn

by Robert S McElvaine


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An award-winning historian on the transformative year in the sixties that continues to reverberate in our lives and politics—for readers of Heather Cox Richardson.

If 1968 marked a turning point in a pivotal decade, 1964—or rather, the long 1964, from JFK’s assassination in November 1963 to mid-1965—was the time when the sixties truly arrived. It was then that the United States began a radical shift toward a much more inclusive definition of “American,” with a greater degree of equality and a government actively involved in social and economic improvement.

It was a radical shift accompanied by a cultural revolution. The same month Bob Dylan released his iconic ballad “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” January 1964, President Lyndon Johnson announced his War on Poverty. Spurred by the civil rights movement and a generation pushing for change, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and the Immigration and Nationality Act were passed during this period. This was a time of competing definitions of freedom. Freedom from racism, freedom from poverty. White youth sought freedoms they associated with black culture, captured imperfectly in the phrase “sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll.” Along with freedom from racist oppression, black Americans sought the opportunities associated with the white middle class: “white freedom.” Women challenged rigid gender roles. And in response to these freedoms, the changing mores, and youth culture, the contrary impulse found political expression in such figures as Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, proponents of what was presented as freedom from government interference. Meanwhile, a nonevent in the Tonkin Gulf would accelerate the nation's plunge into the Vietnam tragedy.

In narrating 1964’s moment of reckoning, when American identity began to be reimagined, McElvaine ties those past battles to their legacy today. Throughout, he captures the changing consciousness of the period through its vibrant music, film, literature, and personalities.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781950994106
Publisher: Arcade
Publication date: 06/07/2022
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 423,209
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Robert S. McElvaine is the Elizabeth Chisholm Distinguished Professor of Arts & Letters and Professor of History at Millsaps College. He is the author of seven books, including The Great Depression: America, 1929–1941 and Eve’s Seed: Biology, the Sexes, and the Course of History, and is the editor of three. Among his many honors are the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence and the B. L. C. Wailes Award for national distinction in the field of history. He has served as historical consultant for several television programs, including the PBS series The Great Depression, and has written more than one hundred articles and opinion pieces in such national publications as the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, the Nation, and Newsweek and has been a guest on about the same number of television and radio programs. He lives in Clinton, Mississippi.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Introduction 1964 in the Context of the History of "The Land of the Free" 1

Chapter 1 "A Change Is Gonna Come": 1964 and the Battle Lines of Today 11

Chapter 2 Death and Rebirth: An Early Start to a Long Year: JFK Departs; the Beatles Arrive 29

Chapter 3 The Colossus of the Long 1964: Lyndon Baines Johnson 39

Chapter 4 Declaring War on Racism and Poverty: Lyndon Johnson Moves to Spread "White Freedom" 55

Chapter 5 The End of the Old Frontier: Dr. Strangelove, or: How We Learned to Start Laughing and Hate the Bomb 67

Chapter 6 A Whiter Shade of Pink: The British Invasion, First Wave 79

Chapter 7 "You Don't Own Me": Asserting Women's Freedom through Song and Other Means 93

Chapter 8 Emancipation Proclamations: Cassius Clay and Malcolm X 107

Chapter 9 "This Damned Vietnam Thing" "We've Got to Conduct Ourselves Like Men" 131

Chapter 10 Paint It Black with a Union Jack: "Black Freedom" Returns to America: The British Invasion, Second Wave 143

Chapter 11 A Midsummer Night's Nightmare: Three Dead in Mississippi 163

Chapter 12 Reenacting Reconstruction(s): The Civil Rights Act and the Great Society 177

Chapter 13 The Crossroads of Freedom: The Mississippi Freedom Summer 197

Chapter 14 "Extremism in Defense of Liberty": Goldwater and the Republicans 209

Chapter 15 LBJ Proposes to "That Bitch of a War": The Tonkin Gulf 231

Chapter 16 Mrs. Hamer Goes to Atlantic City: The Freedom Party vs. the Anti-Freedom Party 247

Chapter 17 Speaking Freely: Berkeley 265

Chapter 18 "To Be President of ALL the People": The 1964 Election 285

Chapter 19 "No More a Man's World Than It Is a White World": Women and Their Positions 303

Chapter 20 Nonviolence and Violence: Year-end in Oslo and Saigon 319

Chapter 21 "Unmatched in the History of Freedom": The Rest of the Long 1964 and the Lasting Impact of the Year 329

Acknowledgments 359

Permissions Acknowledgments 365

Notes 367

Bibliography 419

Illustration Credits 433

Index 439

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