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1968: The Year That Rocked the World

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  1,373 ratings  ·  161 reviews
To some, 1968 was 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 upsurge of the women’s movement; and the begin ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published January 11th 2005 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2001)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Erik Graff
Jul 19, 2011 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
Although only a junior in high school, 1968 was the most important year of my life to date, the year when I was most conscious of and involved in what was going on in the broader world. When I find a book on the subject, or the period surrounding it, or of a major event occurring during it, I tend to pick it up. Of all such books read thus far, Kurlansky's is the best.

The reasons for this opinion are several. For one thing, he doesn't confine himself to the USA. Extensive coverage is provided fo
...more
Scottnshana
Several years ago I read Rick Perlstein's well-researched but very depressing "Nixonland" while working for the UN in the Republic of Georgia, and from that read I'd already gathered that the U.S. had some very ugly ethical, political, and geopolitical truths to tackle in 1968. I have also heard that we are always nostalgic for the years both we and our parents were on the cusp of adulthood, and my father graduated high school in 1968--so of course I picked up this book. In it, Kurlansky takes t ...more
Blyden
Did not enjoy this as much as Salt. In this book Kurlansky provides a history of the events of 1968 (focusing on Prague Spring, Racial tensions and civil rights in the US, Vietnam protests, Cuba, Biafra, the US election, Democratic Convention in Chicago, assassinations of MLK and Bobby Kennedy, and student protests in Paris, Spain, and Mexico). The thesis is that 1968 was the crucial year in a short time period of the late 1960s in which the mass-audience, powerful imagery, and sheer speed of me ...more
Darlene
Dec 29, 2011 Darlene rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who was a teen in 1968
This is not my normal read. I came upon it quite accidentally. But I must admit that I felt I learned more about what was happening during my graduation year. I knew it was a turbulent time. But I thought 18 was that way for all young adults throughout time.

Pulling out from the individual conflict I did know and felt personally the war versus peace and love but little did I know of what was happening world wide. This book takes the magnifying glass and zeros in on a conflict from the persons at
...more
Bob
May 22, 2008 Bob rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: history
This book brought back a lot of memories of my youth.(I turned nineteen in 1968.) The author does a good job providing a digest of many of the events of that year, but at the beginning of the book the author offers the proposition that this is such an important year that it changed the world. While I do not question that many of the events that occurred that year, did much to alter history, the author fails to, in any great detail, address what he believes are the results of this seminal year.
Roshan
I've been wanting to read this book for 6 years, ever since a professor told me that people who came of age in 1968 immediately recognize each other as a "sixty-eighter", no matter where in the world they spent that year and what they did.

If, like me, you wish you had been a young person in the 1960s, this is a must-read. 1968 is remembered as the year when the forces for true democracy changed the world. It was the year when Dylan and Ginsberg became prophets, when TV began to change the media
...more
Phil
Aug 01, 2008 Phil rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people interested in the 60s
I got this book as research on a piece I am writing about 1968. It was a good account of certain aspects but Kurlansky focused only on left-wing radical student and youth movements to the exclusion of all else. That was OK but he left out quite a bit, even of that. The feeling of rage and even any direct quotation of the insane, ridiculous demands that a lot of these groups made were completely left out. There was little talk of anything outside the rarified world of student radicalism. The assa ...more
Simon Wood
1968 AND ALL THAT

Mark Kurlansky has set himself the task of writing the history of 1968, a year of rock n roll n rebellions. Much of the focus of the book is on the student movements that erupted across the world, principally in France, the United States, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Mexico and Germany, though Kurlansky still finds room to deal with the Vietnam War, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, the war in Biafra, as well as topics such as feminism, and the popular philosophy and literature
...more
Diane
As the title suggests, this is a book about the year I graduated from high school and my first year in college. Surprisingly, I was unaware of the world events transpiring at the same time as the events in the U.S. that most effected my views evan today: civil rights unrest, the murders of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy and the student demonstrations. Kurlansky explains these events in more detail than I remember, but also talks about such events as the French student unrest, Praque Spring ...more
Jonathan
This was posted as an assigned text for one of the classes I tutor students for, so I picked it up to familiarize myself with it. It took me roughly two days to get through it from cover to cover, and I'm glad it didn't take much longer than that. For the most part, the author has no discernible main thesis throughout the work, but strings together events that just so happened to occur in the same year and called them related in a convoluted way. Most of the facts presented were very hard to dis ...more
R.S. Gompertz
I grew up in the sixties so the significance of the times was filtered and distorted by the day-to-day concerns of a grade school kid.

Kurlansky's "1968" puts the times into perspective. The assassinations of MLK and RFK. The Shakespearean tragedy of LBJ. Prague Spring. May '68. Student uprisings around the world. Ghetto uprisings around the country. The Democratic Convention debacle in Chicago and the inspiring hope of the Apollo program.

I remember many of these events seeping into our lives f
...more
Jo
This is the way I like to read history: reading of simultaneous events around the world; and 1968 was a pivotal year politically, culturally etc. and engaged passionately many people in their 20s-out with the old order and the supposed end of hypocrisy and inequality and sexism and "keeping up of appearances". History does seem to repeat itself albeit in an updated technologically way.
I think, given the author's other books,he is a "neat" person.
Jo
Bookmarks Magazine

Kurlansky is master of small ceremonies. Author of Salt: A World History and Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, he examines another deceptively small thing in 1968: a year. He draws together disparate people and events in a global portrait of revolutionary change. Kurlansky is the first to admit that his youthful, anti-Vietnam bent is anything but objective; after all, he came of age during the turbulent

Babak Fakhamzadeh
Kurlansky starts off by providing the four factors that contributed to 1968's flurry of revolts:

+ The example that was set in the early 1960s by the civil rights movement.
+ A generation that felt so different and alienated that it rejected all authority.
+ A war that was universally hated, providing a cause célèbre.
+ The emergence of yet-loosely controlled, and therefore much more raw and direct, television.

The book's interesting, but also feels a bit quaint. Focusing primarily on the U.S., with
...more
Alexandra
This book came out a decade ago. I think I've owned it for that same length of time - I seem to recall getting it as a freebie at some readers' night at a bookshop. I'd adored everything else by Kurlansky that I'd read, so it seemed like a good deal at the time. And then it just... got lost in the pile of books that I own and haven't got around to reading. As happens all too often. Plus, I overlooked it because after all, 1968 is really quite recent, yeh? And modern history... well, it's just po ...more
Annabelle
highly interesting and informative. I love the way it jumps back and forth explaining to the reader what was going on around the world at the same time. a fascinating era and we have a lot of freedoms we take for granted today because of the protesters of the 60s, for this we should be grateful. I would also be interested in reading a similar book focusing more on the uk during this period. recommendations welcome.
Columbia Warren
This is a very good popular history for those of us who did not experience the sixties. I especially liked that the book took a global approach and was not simply focused on the U.S.
Craig Werner
The strength of this book lies in the final word of the title: "world." Unlike many "sixties books," Kurlansky's history doesn't confuse America (and Vietnam) with the whole story. He does recount the assassinations of Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy, the student takeover of Columbia University, the Chicago Convention, etc., but, more importantly, he gives detailed attention to events around the world. He's particularly good with Europe, concentrating on Poland, Czechoslovakia, West Germany and Franc ...more
Dave Biggus
I only had an inkling as to what a pivotal year 1968 was before this book. It seemed like the whole planet had an almost coincidental revolution. Viet Nam was a big part of it, but the conflicts between authority and protest, communism/capitalism, feminism, economic disparity, the middle east (of course), all played roles. And it was all brought live (and much less edited) by the new medium of television! Particularly reveling were the parts about Abbie Hoffman (hilarious) and the Chicago Democr ...more
Ted Magnuson
1968, the year that rocked the world.
I write this review at the beginning of 2014, 46 years after the events described in Kurlansky’s epic book. As a high school student back then in 1968, and now, as someone living in the 21st century, I can’t help but marvel at the contrast in society. Yes, this book has captured the temper of the times. I particularly liked his global perspective; Africa, Europe, Russia, as well as America. Everywhere people who felt themselves disenfranchised rose in protest
...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life
4 STARS

"Although it might have seemed logical to follow his successful books Cod (1997) and Salt (2002) with Olive Oil, Kurlansky has a different agenda this time out. But what can be gained from yet another Boomer report on the 1960s? Surprisingly, quite a bit. In examining the momentous events of 1968, he refolds the map so the U.S. is no longer the center of student protest. Though this "spontaneous combustion of rebellious spirits around the world"--including countries such as Poland, Czecho
...more
Joe
Aug 18, 2012 Joe rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: history
Pause and take a deep breath now and again when you read this one. Kurlansky's charming, enthusiastic style invites you in to share hisshare his view of the subject discussed, and he is clarly an ethusiastic fan of the 60s protest movement. He'll sweep you away with words, making you forget that this is one man's opinion. At least he gives you fair warning in his introduction, marking him as one of the few writers free of the myth of unbiased reporting.

Well, it is a brisk and thrilling read. You
...more
Larry Bassett
I am a sucker for books about the 60s and 70s so I had no way to ignore 1968: The Year that Rocked the World once I heard about it. It is another of those one dollar online used books. I can blame Goodreads for bringing it to my attention. Otherwise I might have died never having read this small jewel. It is special because it covers the 1968 political and social stirrings not only in the U.S. but internationally. It was a rebellious year in places other than the U.S. If you lived through this e ...more
Sara
Aug 22, 2012 Sara rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who weren't adults in 1968
I moved from Virginia to Chicago in September of 1968, just after the Democratic convention, so I missed the opportunity to be beaten up by the Chicago police. I might have missed it anyway, since the state of Virginia was pretty much a backwater in those days and the closest I had gotten to radicalism was to work for McCarthy in Virginia -- so although I was against the Vietnam War, I wasn't part of the 60s subculture in any meaningful way. The civil rights movement of the late fifties-early si ...more
James
After reading Kurlansky's book on non-violence, this was a bit of a disappointment. The book chronicles the anti-establishment movement that had gripped the world in 1968, primarily through student organizations in response to the Vietnam War. He most thorough investigation is of the Prague Spring and its aftermath.

The folly of the world's leaders at the time is shocking, but more shocking is the fact that our elected leaders continue to operate so idiotically.

The book is hard to put down, but I
...more
Pilouetta
for this review, i will make lists informed by kurlansky's volumnous research. this book contains comprehensive end notes, a hearty bibliography and a thorough index - three things i really like! 1968, year of the revolution, baby.

kurlansky writes that 1968 was the year that "impossible things seemed possible," he then quotes a slogan taken from a wall in paris: BE REALISTIC, ASK FOR THE IMPOSSIBLE. this was the year that revolution seemed tangible and all over the world students and workers wer
...more
Tim Nistler
I really enjoyed this book. I have always known that 1968 was a year that had great impact on the world, but most of the things I knew about were the assinations of MLK and Bobby Kennedy, the Democratic Convention, and the continuing disaster that was the Vietnam War. Kurlansky reaches out to so many parts of the world and manages to tie them together - especially all the student movements. So many young people raised their voices to be heard. Kurlansky does a good job of talking about each move ...more
Zach
Baseline of 5/10:

+1 for information. Kurlansky crams a lot of facts and events into one book, giving a whirlwind tour of the Civil Rights movement, the Prague spring, Paris student uprising, Polish resistance, and Biafran war in Nigeria.

+1 for leveling the playing field. No one event is treated as more important than the other; the Polish resistance and Biafran war are given equal billing with the more well-known Civil Rights movement and Democratic Convention's Chicago riots.

-1 for uneven detai
...more
Shawn Thrasher
I've read this book twice now. The first review, from back in February 2005, was a stupidly pithy and snarky one line: "The protesters of 1968 all seem like rather unpleasant people, and bit like spoiled brats." This second go around, I listened to the book on audio, and my reaction was a bit more nuanced and intelligent. Instead of "unpleasant people," I'm going to use Kurlansky's own words. He kept saying the word of the year in 1968 was "mother fucker." I think that a good chunk of these 1968 ...more
Zak
Mark Kurlansky, who has consistently topped bestseller lists with histories narrowly focused on unusual and original subjects such as salt, cod, and oysters, shifts gears slightly to tell the action-packed story of perhaps the most volatile year in living memory. Where it works best, we are introduced to formerly anonymous participants in the street battles that defined an era. And Kurlansky's thesis, that this was the year a generation united in opposition to the old order and revolution seemed ...more
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1847
Mark Kurlansky (born 7 December 1948 in Hartford, Connecticut) is a highly-acclaimed American journalist and writer of general interest non-fiction. He is especially known for titles on eclectic topics, such as cod or salt.

Kurlansky attended Butler University, where he harbored an early interest in theatre and earned a BA in 1970. However, his interest faded and he began to work as a journalist in
...more
More about Mark Kurlansky...
Salt: A World History Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell The Basque History of the World: The Story of a Nation The Food of a Younger Land: The WPA's Portrait of Food in Pre-World War II America

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