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The Sixties

3.34  ·  Rating Details ·  149 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
A brilliant, alternative take on sixties swinging London, Jenny Diski offers radical reconsiderations of the social, political, and personal meaning of that turbulent era.
What was Jenny Diski doing in the sixties? A lot: dropping out, taking drugs, buying clothes, having sex, demonstrating, and spending time in mental hospitals. Now, as Diski herself turns sixty years old
Paperback, 143 pages
Published July 1st 2009 by Profile Books(GB) (first published January 1st 2009)
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[3.5] The bulk of this admittedly short book doesn't say much that's different from other 1960s counterculture history-memoirs: the protests, the drugs, films, books and lifestyle - but not much about the music here.

However there are still some really good chapters. The book opens when Diski is in her early teens - if she'd been from a more sheltered background she might have missed quite a lot of The Sixties, but she ran away from home and dropped out before she'd been in anything apart from s
Jan 10, 2017 Bert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Jenny Diski, and it was great and acerbic and concise. I especially liked the first half. First half v good. At times the balance of memoir slash social history of the 60s felt a little awks, but who cares, Diski probably didn't, in fact she paints a pretty bleak picture here most of the time and seems pretty pissed off, as any Sixties radical would be who had to live through the Eighties. She also seemed fucking wonderful and i will root around for more of her books.
Jan 12, 2010 E rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to E by: Bookseller Magazine
Jenny Diski's "The Sixties"--an odd blend of history and memoir--is divided into six sections recounting 1960s resistance and radicalism in Britain: consumption and cultural output (clothes, films, books, media), drug use (prescription and illegal), sex and (briefly) sexuality (free love, Stonewall in New York), political strife (radicalism, resistance, political philosophies, laws, even the dole), education (non-traditional schooling), and mental health (experimental psychological practices).

Jun 14, 2016 sevdah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved the chapters on madness and her thoughts on rape culture woven into the sexual revolution, as well as her account on free schooling; some parts were a bit dull, but generally a very well written memoir that - thank God! - didn't romanticize the era at all.
Feb 02, 2017 Jesse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
Thoughtful and well-written reflection on aspects of sixties radicalism from someone who was both on board and less on board with some of it, written as she approached death in middle age. Very short as it was designed for a short books series, though there's a wisdom here--it reads like a supremely well written personal zine, ala Cometbus/Burn Collector/Doris. The end is abrupt and each chapter could have been expanded, however.
Peter Landau
Aug 29, 2014 Peter Landau rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why is it that everyone who grew up in the Sixties is convinced that, say what you will about anything else, the music was the best. Don’t they know every generation feels that way. Has it ever occurred to them that music heard during the period between child- and adulthood is always going to resonate with the place and time. It’s nostalgia. Great music or shit, it doesn’t matter, because the music is just a trigger to memory and hindsight is not only clearest it’s prejudice.

Jenny Diski starts
Craig Werner
Feb 17, 2014 Craig Werner rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sixties
A brief, often amusing and lightly insightful memoir of growing up in London during the mythic 1960s. The differences between her England and the America I grew up in can be summed up in two words: "race" and "Vietnam." It's not exactly that Diski's 60s were free of the political tensions of the US, but she clearly felt herself "free' in a way that focused almost entirely on what we would have called the "personal" side of things. She knows this, commenting at one point that for all the emphasis ...more
Jul 11, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jenny Diski is not with us any longer and I miss her already. She was never a sentimental writer. She told it as she saw it and I appreciated that. This little book, The Sixties, is no different. She sums up those years from the perspective of a citizen of Great Britain, and that is fine because as I saw it at the time that was where it was all happening anyway. On the other side of the pond we had civil rights marches and the Vietnam War, but in England things were a bit more fun. The music and ...more
Oct 08, 2009 Theresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Diski lived her adolescence in the 60's in London. A number of the elements of the 60's as lived in the U.S. are in this memoir, but it is thin soup by comparison. The Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War draft, friends being killed, families torn apart, cities in flames, universities shut down, tanks in the streets, took place here and also defined the 60's for us, her age peers. This essay does bring back the sex, drugs, rock 'n roll, feminism, and the revolutions in education and mental ...more
Jul 17, 2011 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this earlier today and could not put it down. It is a very honest account (a mixture of history and personal experience) of what Diski believed worked, and more vividly and interestingly, didn't work about the sixties generation. The chapter, Projecting the Future, was particularly illuminating for its observations and honesty. Anyone who still actually believes the Sixties was some utopian, care-free, all-embracing commune, which was unique in changing the world, should especi ...more
Jan 06, 2012 Aggie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Baby Boomers, lovers of 1960s history, British and American
A fun, interesting read about growing up as a young female radical in 1960s England. Ms. Diski muses about her addiction to drugs, her feelings of sexual liberation, communal living, her three stints in psychiatric hospitals, the war in Vietnam, English vs. American views of the war, and other topics. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It wasn't boring and Ms. Diski writes with honesty and wit about her personal experiences in an era full of political, racial, and sexist strife.
May 18, 2016 Joanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enviable and emulatable writing style, although she losed her cold-eyes clarity when discussing enducation and politics, which are obviously dear to her heart. But wow is she great on the other aspects of the era.
Jul 27, 2011 Wendy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This did not reflect my recollections of the sixties as much as I thought it would. The major difference is that in the US the Vietnam war dominated the culture and this was written from a British perspective. It was somewhat interesting, and thankfully short.
May 02, 2015 Christa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Spot on. Insightful analysis of how liberalism of the 60s morphed into libertarianism of the 70s and beyond. Loved the last chapter on Laing and Szasz and the current plight of the mentally ill.
May 06, 2012 Ethan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
An interesting, though not necessarily representative, slice of England in the 60's. Better as memoir than history.
Not bad, somewhat interesting memoir of a teen of the 60s. Interesting insights, but overall just a little too precious for my tastes...
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Jenny Diski was a British writer. Diski was a prolific writer of fiction and nonfiction articles, reviews and books. She was awarded the 2003 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award for Stranger on a Train: Daydreaming and Smoking around America With Interruptions.

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