Cover: The Sixties Unplugged: A Kaleidoscopic History of a Disorderly Decade, from Harvard University PressCover: The Sixties Unplugged in PAPERBACK

The Sixties Unplugged

A Kaleidoscopic History of a Disorderly Decade

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Product Details


$30.00 • £24.95 • €27.00

ISBN 9780674034631

Publication Date: 03/30/2010

Academic Trade

528 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

Not for sale in UK, British Commonwealth & Europe (except Canada)

DeGroot debunks this decade with bravura, relishing the ironies… [He] whirls through the era with a kind of manic energy… There is much to admire about this book, which is scrupulously researched and provocative. I thought I knew this period well, having lived through it intensely, but I was often surprised by the details that DeGroot churns up. He adds a great deal of nuance to memories… There was something fresh and strange about this brief era, and I refuse to let go of that. But I acknowledge that one must always keep its advances in perspective, and DeGroot’s book—despite its dizzying aspect—goes a long way toward providing it.—Jay Parini, The Chronicle of Higher Education

In his meaty, rich text, DeGroot argues that the real spirit of the ’60s has been lost in a deluge of nostalgia. The ‘free’ decade, the freak show, was one in which China’s Cultural Revolution proved to be one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. The sixties, he argues, were shaped more by the election of Reagan as the governor of California than by Kennedy. We’ve ‘chosen’ to forget about Sharpeville, the Gaza Strip and Jakarta. The so-called ‘revolution’ of the sixties, as we know it, didn’t really exist. History, he argues, is not necessarily an accurate representation of what happened—but the way we view that it happened. His book, disguised as a coffee table ‘light read,’ is sure to spark controversy. It is, in effect a history book. Only in it, DeGroot says what few history books have the guts to.—Caitlin O’Toole, Parade

The Sixties Unplugged is a bracing blast for those who want their history unadulterated and straight up. Gerard J. DeGroot’s freewheeling book offers 67 snapshots of this discordant decade, from raunchy Berkeley to barbwired Berlin… DeGroot’s picaresque journey visits all the sacred shrines familiar to those who lived through the decade or heard about it at granddad’s knee: People’s Park in Berkeley, the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, the bomb cellars of Greenwich Village, the battlefield in South Vietnam and the bra-bonfire outside the Miss America pageant. But the author also includes less familiar stops on the Magical Mystery Tour, reminding readers that the Sixties with a capital S did not belong to America alone. DeGroot’s disparate vignettes are grouped into 15 chapters that show that the unrest reached far beyond our coasts, washing onto the shores of Mexico, Britain, Indonesia, Israel, France, China and indeed everywhere that people carried placards or transistor radios.—Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, The San Diego Union-Tribune

The cover art is swirly and psychedelic, but inside the author makes some trenchant points. [DeGroot] argues that in the 1960s, cynicism trumped hope and materialism quashed creativity, despite what people remember.The Vancouver Sun

DeGroot seeks to debunk the popular legend of the Sixties as a golden age of peace, love and understanding… He has written a book containing a little something to offend—and enlighten—just about everyone… DeGroot’s The Sixties Unplugged stands as an informative, well-researched, mostly on-the-mark response to the claims of graying Baby Boomers about the wall-to-wall wonderfulness of that long, strange trip of a decade.—James E. Person, Jr., The Washington Times

DeGroot makes an important contribution to the literature through his inclusion of events outside the U.S. in the 1960s.—K.B. Butter, Choice

For many years, the two standard histories of the 1960s in the United States have been Todd Gitlin’s The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage and Milton Viorst’s Fire in the Streets: America in the 1960s. A writer would need lots of confidence and energy to dethrone these works, and DeGroot has what it takes… This work is an important contribution to the literature of contemporary history.—Thomas A. Karel, Library Journal (starred review)

DeGroot deconstructs virtually all key icons of the era—Woodstock (‘a festival, yes; a nation, no’), the Beatles, Dylan, student radicals, Haight-Ashbury, the sexual revolution and even Muhammad Ali—finding that their legends loom far larger than their realities. One might disagree, but DeGroot’s book comprises a fascinating revisionist polemic.Publishers Weekly

Without sentiment or tears, The Sixties Unplugged takes a fresh look at that insane and wonderful sore-thumb decade of the 20th Century. A thoroughly researched work of history, it is also a good story, beautifully told.—William McKeen, author of Outlaw Journalist

A truly international history that crosses geographical boundaries in all directions. No other book covers such a diverse array of events with such facility and verve. Vivid and compelling, The Sixties Unplugged captures the frenetic energy and disorientation of the decade.—Jeremi Suri, Professor of History, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Awards & Accolades

  • 2009 Ray and Pat Browne Award for Best Single-Authored Work, Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association
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