1959: The Year Everything Changed

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John Wiley & Sons, May 27, 2009 - History - 336 pages
2 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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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - idiotgirl - LibraryThing

This is a very competent, lively book. And the way it fits into my life means I give it a 4 rather than perhaps a 3. I was in the 6th-7th grade in 1959. I remember some of the events of the book. Most ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - shieldwolf - LibraryThing

Interesting Information, but I think I'd use it for a reference book rather than a book to curl up and read. It brought back a lot of memories though. Well written and appears to be well researched as well. Read full review


Dedication Praise Timeline
Breaking the Chains
A Visitor from the East
The Philosopher of
Generations Howling
The Cosmonaut of Inner Space
The End of Obscenity
Sparking the Powder
Civilizations in the Stars
A Great Upward Swoop of Movement
Blurring Art and Life
Seeing the Invisible
The OffHollywood Movie
The Shape of Jazz to Come
Dancing in the Streets

Thinking about the Unthinkable
The Race for Space
pter 1O Topmg the Tyranny of Numbers pter 11 The Assault on the Chord
Revolutionary Euphoria
Breaking the Logjam Hitting the Wall
The Frontiers Dark Side
The New Language of Diplomacy
Andromeda Freed from Her Chains
New Frontiers
Acknowledgements Notes

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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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