1959: The Year Everything Changed
Acclaimed national security columnist–and noted cultural critic–Fred Kaplan looks past the 1960s to the year that really changed America
Conventional historical wisdom focuses on the sixties as the era of pivotal change that swept the nation, yet, as Fred Kaplan argues, it was 1959 that ushered in the wave of tremendous cultural, political, and scientific shifts that would...more
This is Concept History. The traditional historian researches first, then pronounces conclusions. The concept historian pronounces first, then researches.
The concept here is that 1959 was the year when America pivoted from the shallow, stultified '50s to the dynamic, creative 60s.
The trouble with The Concept Method is that the concept deforms the facts. The concept here is simple-minded at best, silly at worst.
David Halberstam's marvelous "The Fifites" put to r...more
Kaplan commits the fallacy of trying to locate the changes which took place in the 60's in a single when there were many changes which took place over a series of years that prepared the way for the 60's. Kaplan has an excessive tende...more
I mock the drama of implying that the history of the world hinged on a single year - really, it's never that simple. But 1959 was a unique year, on...more
The book's 25 chapters are cleverly arranged by date, from January 1 when Castro took power in Cuba to January 1, 1960 when JFK announced he was running for President. Other notable events: the start of Motown, the first use of the word 'aerospace,' the invention of the microchip, the application for FDA approval for the birth contro...more
The chapters aren't that long. There are no superfluous sentences. Kaplan doesn't get too technical with any explanations, but he gives you all that you need to know.
I enjoyed this book a lot....more
In any case his stuff on "Kind of Blue" and "The Shape of Jazz...more
“It was the year of the microchip, the birth-control pill, the space race, and the computer revolution; the rise of Pop art, free jazz, “sick comics,” the New Journalism, and indie films; the emergence of Castro, Malcolm X, and personal superpower diplomacy; the beginnings of Motown, Happenings, and the Generation Gap—all breaking against the backdrop of the Cold War, the fallout-shelter craze, and the first American casualties of the war in Vietnam.”—front-cover flap.
However, the author sets up 1959 and the late 50s in general as the set up years for the 60s movement. Movements never come in nice neat decade-long packages. The reality is that the 50s lasted through 1963, the 1960s through 1974 and so on. Th...more
He talks about each occurrence and then provides a detailed history that surrounds these events. For some things, such as the birth control pill, 1959 was a sort of culmination of years of work by Margaret Sanger (the founder of Planned Parenthood) and her contemporaries.
For other events, 1959 was th...more
Listened to the audiobook.