This book explores life in America during that brief promising moment in the early Sixties when John F. Kennedy was President. Kennedy's Cold War frustrations in Cuba and Vietnam worried Americans. The 1962 missile crisis narrowly avoided a nuclear disaster. The civil rights movement gained momentum with student sit-ins, Freedom Rides, and crises in Mississippi and Alabama. Martin Luther King, Jr., emerged as a spokesman for non-violent social change. The American family was undergoing rapid change. Betty Friedan began to launch the Women's Movement.
The Beat authors Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg gained respectability and, at the same time, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan revived folk music. Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol produced Pop Art, while Ginsberg, Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary, and Ken Kesey began to promote psychedelic drugs. The early Sixties was a period of marked political, social and cultural change which this book relates and discusses.
W. J. Rorabaugh teaches history at the University of Washington in Seattle.
'Using the persona of John F. Kennedy as a central reference point, W. J. Rorabaugh shrewdly explores a critical time of transition in American cultural and political history. Concise but inclusive, always perceptive, this absorbing volume belongs on a short list of essential works about the 1960s.' Alonzo Hamby, Ohio University
'Six elegant, wide-ranging, forceful chapters. These eventful years of American history - which still resonate in countless ways - are captured in vivid images and fast-moving exploration.' Charles Royster, author of The Destructive War: William Tecumseh Sherman, Stonewall Jackson and the Americans
'In what is more social than a political history, [Rorabaugh] makes good use of oral histories and personal correspondence to show that these years were distinct from the 1950s and the later 1960s, owing no small part to the Kennedy presence … Recommended for public and academic libraries.' Library Journal
'A welcome addition to the literature on the fourth American president to be slain while in office. Its brevity and readability ensure that Rorabaugh's study should appeal to both historians and the general reading public.' History