Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating


3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  1,189 ratings  ·  144 reviews
In this monumental new book, award-winning author Mark Kurlansky has written his most ambitious work to date: a singular and ultimately definitive look at a pivotal moment in history.

With 1968, Mark Kurlansky brings to teeming life the cultural and political history of that world-changing year of social upheaval. People think of it as the year of sex, drugs, and rock and...more
Published December 30th 2003 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2001)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about 1968, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about 1968

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,611)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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

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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Aug 01, 2008 Phil rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Simon Wood

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
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
Mark Nenadov
A well-done survey of the major happenings of 1968. He writes with an exciting voice and he makes history come to life. You'll likely find this book weightier and less frivolous than your typical book about the 60's. I came into this with a pretty good understanding of the major events of 1968 and I found delightful moments where I felt I was learning some new, interesting details.

One of the huge accomplishments here is that Kurlansky handled the difficult balance of duly focusing on important...more
I enjoyed this book for several reasons:

(a) Kurlansky's schtick has been telling history through the lens of catalysts, from salt to cod to basques. I didn't much like Salt because it bogged down in small stories and lacked coherence, but I found 1968 an impressive exercise in connecting a huge number of somewhat isolated sub-plots from around the world.

(b) I liked that Kurlansky was honest with his bias and much funnier for it.

(c) this book helped justify my latent dislike for hippies. Nothing...more
The book seemed kind of jumpy to me. Obviously, when writing about a specific period/year in history, there is some background information required. Also, there was so much STUFF going on at this time, all over the world, that the book at times seemed like a whole jumble of information packed into one book.

However, I did enjoy how he focused not just on the typical "white privileged college kids opposing the war in Vietnam," but brought in perspectives and revolutions from all over the world. I...more
I've actually read this book before, and it's a fun and page-turning read if you like this kind of thing. Some aspects became repetitive and cliché - like the constant references to hair length and and number of Jewish radicals in different movements from Poland to France to the US. There's also an unseemly amount of attention to the Columbia student takeover and the Yippie! activists, somewhat peripheral players. The condensed historical backgrounds to certain 1968 moments - the miniprimers on...more
Harry Hemstreet
In 1968 (at age 27) I graduated from DePaul, Beth gave birth to our third son, Mark. I was promoted to be the IT director at the largest packing plant in the country (St.Paul, MN). I was making a pretty good salary for the day at my new job (17,000 - equiv of about 130,000 today) and spent most of the year showing Armour and Co. how brilliant that promotion was. Turns out there was a whole lot of other stuff going on too. I did not pay much attention at the time, but wow - should have been more...more
This book brings to life the cultural and political history of that world-changing year of social upheaval. It was a year of sex, drugs, rock and roll, of the Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy assassinations, Democratic National Convention riots, Prague Spring and the antiwar movement and the Tet Offensive. Great book and a great review of the year 1968.
This history intrigued me because it's about the year I was born and a period in history that remains a key in understanding the modern world. I take one star off not because of the quality of anything that's here, but because there could have been even more. The focus is mainly on student movements in various places around the world, particularly the U.S., Germany, France, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Mexico. There is coverage of the King and Kennedy assassinations, the presidential campaign, an...more
Stephanie Ricker
Ok, I don't really like the 60s all that much. Yes, they had good music, and I have been called a hippie on occasion, but...I dunno. Not my thing. So I wasn't entirely thrilled with this book, although I found the concept fascinating that so many student revolutions could all boil over at the same time. It was a truly chaotic time period, and I can see how some people thought that it might be the beginning of the end of the world. I find Kurlansky's obvious bias towards the chaos a little strang...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 87 88 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Seventies: The Great Shift In American Culture, Society, And Politics
  • The Red Prince
  • 1959: The Year Everything Changed
  • Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore
  • Age of Fracture
  • They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace Vietnam and America October 1967
  • Homeward Bound: American Families In The Cold War Era
  • The Birth of the Modern: World Society 1815-1830
  • 1915   The Death Of Innocence
  • Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire That Civilized the Wild West
  • Killing for Coal: America's Deadliest Labor War
  • The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography from the Revolution to the First World War
  • The Vertigo Years: Europe 1900-1914
  • The Long Road Home: The Aftermath of the Second World War
  • Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy
  • Stayin' Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class
  • Unlikely Allies: How a Merchant, a Playwright, and a Spy Saved the American Revolution
  • The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall, and Deadly Persistence of the Product that Defined America
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 Basque History of the World: The Story of a Nation The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell The Food of a Younger Land: The WPA's Portrait of Food in Pre-World War II America

Share This Book