1959: The Year Everything Changed

Front Cover
John Wiley & Sons, May 27, 2009 - History - 336 pages
20 Reviews
Acclaimed national security columnist and noted cultural critic Fred Kaplan looks past the 1960s to the year that really changed America

While conventional accounts focus on the sixties as the era of pivotal change that swept the nation, Fred Kaplan argues that it was 1959 that ushered in the wave of tremendous cultural, political, and scientific shifts that would play out in the decades that followed. Pop culture exploded in upheaval with the rise of artists like Jasper Johns, Norman Mailer, Allen Ginsberg, and Miles Davis. Court rulings unshackled previously banned books. Political power broadened with the onset of Civil Rights laws and protests. The sexual and feminist revolutions took their first steps with the birth control pill. America entered the war in Vietnam, and a new style in superpower diplomacy took hold. The invention of the microchip and the Space Race put a new twist on the frontier myth.

  • Vividly chronicles 1959 as a vital, overlooked year that set the world as we know it in motion, spearheading immense political, scientific, and cultural change
  • Strong critical acclaim: "Energetic and engaging" (Washington Post); "Immensely enjoyable . . . a first-rate book" (New Yorker); "Lively and filled with often funny anecdotes" (Publishers Weekly)
  • Draws fascinating parallels between the country in 1959 and today

Drawing fascinating parallels between the country in 1959 and today, Kaplan offers a smart, cogent, and deeply researched take on a vital, overlooked period in American history.

  

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Review: 1959: The Year Everything Changed

User Review  - Robin - Goodreads

This book was disappointing. His thesis is that 1959 is under appreciated as a year that was pivotal in political, social, and cultural changes in America. But 1959 itself is rather random -- most of ... Read full review

Review: 1959: The Year Everything Changed

User Review  - Scottnshana - Goodreads

I think it would be hard to do what Mr. Kaplan has done here—to take a single year in history that was so full of significance, to break it down into its main currents, and then to show the links ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Breaking the Chains
1
A Visitor from the East
8
The Philosopher of Hip
15
Generations Howling
26
The Cosmonaut of Inner Space
39
The End of Obscenity
45
Sickniks
55
Thinking about the Unthinkable
63
Sparking the Powder Keg
133
Civilizations in the Stars
149
A Great Upward Swoop of Movement
157
Blurring Art and Life
169
Seeing the Invisible
181
The OffHollywood Movie
188
The Shape of Jazz to Come
198
Dancing in the Streets
212

The Race for Space
72
Toppling the Tyranny of Numbers
76
The Assault on the Chord
84
Revolutionary Euphoria
94
Breaking the Logjam Hitting the Wall
105
The Frontiers Dark Side
116
The New Language of Diplomacy
125
Andromeda Freed from Her Chains
221
New Frontiers
233
Acknowledgments
245
Notes
249
Credits
309
Index
311
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Fred Kaplan is a columnist for Slate and a frequent contributor to the New York Times, New York magazine, and other publications. A former reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner for the Boston Globe, he is also the author of Daydream Believers and coauthor of The Wizards of Armageddon. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Brooke Gladstone.

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