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The Sixties, By Terry H. Anderson

1870 words - 7 pages

The Sixties, by Terry H. Anderson, takes the reader on a journey through one of the most turbulent decades in American life. Beginning with the crew-cut conformity of 1950s Cold War culture and ending with the transition into the uneasy '70s, Anderson notes the rise of an idealistic generation of baby boomers, widespread social activism, and revolutionary counterculture. Anderson explores the rapidly shifting mood of the country with the optimism during the Kennedy years, the liberal advances of Johnson's "Great Society," and the growing conflict over Vietnam that nearly tore America apart. The book also navigates through different themes regarding the decade's different currents of social change; including the anti-war movement, the civil rights struggle, and the liberation movements. From the lunch counter sit-in of Greensboro, N.C. in 1960 and the rise of Martin Luther King, Jr. to the Black Power movement at the decade's end, Anderson illustrates the brutality involved in the reaction against civil rights, the radicalization of some of the movement's youth, and the eventual triumphs that would change America forever. He also discusses women's liberation and the feminist movement, as well as the students' rights, gay rights, and environmental movements.
There are several significant, as well as less significant, themes that are put forth by the author. Some themes that are not as meticulously elaborated on, but still contribute to the book, include the idea that war can corrupt the government and it’s actions, police brutality was part of the norm of the 1960s, and the word “power” had more than one meaning during the civil rights era. All these themes are important to take into consideration upon reading this book; however these themes are accompanied and overshadowed by several other major themes. One of these themes is that the 1960s, and all that took place within that era, served as the origin of activism in the US. This thematic standpoint in return provides ground for a second major theme; the 1960s was home to the birth of civil rights movements and forever changed the American idea of the status quo. To a large extent, it is agreeable that that the 1960s serves as the era that led to activism in the US. Anderson is able to confirm and strengthen his standpoint by the fact that it was during one of the greatest milestones of the 1960s, the Vietnam War, that for the first time in the history of the US, the government was subjected to criticism and attacks against their “ways”. This can be evidenced by the fact that Americans, which were majority college students, took to the streets to protest government action. At the time, the policies and actions put forth by the government were seen to be very secretive and wrong. Citizens were hastily informed about the need to stop the spread of communism at the expense of capitalism. Not only were government policies seen as corrupt, the government had kept the American society in the dark...

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