1968: The Year That Rocked the World

1968: The Year That Rocked the World

Mark Kurlansky

Language: English

Pages: 297

ISBN: 0345455827

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In this monumental new book, award-winning author Mark Kurlansky has written his most ambitious work to date: a singular and ultimately definitive look at a pivotal moment in history.

With 1968, Mark Kurlansky brings to teeming life the cultural and political history of that world-changing year of social upheaval. People think of it as the year of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Yet it was also the year of the Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy assassinations; the riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago; Prague Spring; the antiwar movement and the Tet Offensive; Black Power; the generation gap, avant-garde theater, the birth of the women’s movement, and the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union. From New York, Miami, Berkeley, and Chicago to Paris, Prague, Rome, Berlin, Warsaw, Tokyo, and Mexico City, spontaneous uprisings occurred simultaneously around the globe.

Everything was disrupted. In the Middle East, Yasir Arafat’s guerilla organization rose to prominence . . . both the Cannes Film Festival and the Venice Biennale were forced to shut down by protesters . . . the Kentucky Derby winner was stripped of the crown for drug use . . . the Olympics were a disaster, with the Mexican government having massacred hundreds of students protesting police brutality there . . . and the Miss America pageant was stormed by feminists carrying banners that introduced to the television-watching public the phrase “women’s liberation.”
Kurlansky shows how the coming of live television made 1968 the first global year. It was the year that an amazed world watched the first live telecast from outer space, and that TV news expanded to half an hour. For the first time, Americans watched that day’s battle–the Vietnam War’s Tet Offensive–on the evening news. Television also shocked the world with seventeen minutes of police clubbing demonstrators at the Chicago convention, live film of unarmed students facing Soviet tanks in Czechoslovakia, and a war of starvation in Biafra. The impact was huge, not only on the antiwar movement, but also on the medium itself. The fact that one now needed television to make things happen was a cultural revelation with enormous consequences.

In many ways, this momentous year led us to where we are today. Whether through youth and music, politics and war, economics and the media, Mark Kurlansky shows how, in 1968, twelve volatile months transformed who we are as a people. But above all, he gives a new understanding to the underlying causes of the unique historical phenomenon that was the year 1968. Thoroughly researched and engagingly written–full of telling anecdotes, penetrating analysis, and the author’s trademark incisive wit–1968 is the most important book yet of Kurlansky’s noteworthy career.

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number two spot, New York mayor John Lindsay, a handsome, well-liked liberal who had helped write the Kerner Commission report on racial violence, had made it clear that he was eager to run as Nixon’s vice president. Conservative Nixon with liberal Lindsay would have brought to the Republican Party the full spectrum of American politics. Instead Nixon turned to the Right, picking a little-known and not much loved archconservative, with views, especially on race and law and order, that were so

Jachimczyk, and Antony Polonsky. The Jews in Poland. New York: Basil Blackwell, 1988. Kersten, Krystyna. “The Mass Protests in People’s Poland—A Continuous Process or Single Events?” In Acta Ploniae Historica Sempter, vol. 83, 165–192. Warszawa: Instytut Historii Pan, 2001. Tollet, Daniel. Histoire des Juifs en Pologne: Du XVI siècle à nos jours. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1992. THE VIETNAM WAR Appy, Christian G. Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered from All Sides. New York:

trust us that much, trust you that much, for you to say what you think. Tell them what it looks like, from your being on the ground, what is your opinion.” “You’re getting pretty heavy,” Cronkite told Salant. Cronkite suspected that all the trust he had earned was about to be diminished because he was crossing a line he had never before crossed. CBS also feared that their news show’s top ratings might slip with Walter’s transition from sphinx to pundit. But the more they thought about it, the

Polish flag on armbands. They said they wanted to talk to the students, but after a short time talking they took out clubs and in the presence of two hundred police officers chased the students through the campus, beating them while the police arrested those who attempted to flee. The students were shocked by the brutality and by the unprovoked invasion of the campus in violation of all tradition. After years in which periodic dissident acts led by Jacek Kuroń and Karol Modzelewski had been able

books, but I was shocked,” said Szczesna. “I didn’t read the newspaper except the movie section, but now I looked and it was so different. The newspaper talked of hooligans, adventurers, children of the rich, Zionists. This was unacceptable. It was clear that I should participate. There was something in the air—a kind of excitement.” She signed a petition and joined a march protesting the arrests of students and demanding the press write the truth. Her mother, Jadwiga, a clerk who had always

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