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1968: The Year That Rocked the World

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,855 Ratings  ·  222 Reviews
Brings to teeming life the cultural and political history of the pivotal year of 1968, when television's influence on global events first became apparent, and spontaneous uprisings occurred simultaneously around the world.

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;
Paperback, 480 pages
Published January 11th 2005 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2001)
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Saleh MoonWalker
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Onvan : 1968: The Year That Rocked the World - Nevisande : Mark Kurlansky - ISBN : 345455827 - ISBN13 : 9780345455826 - Dar 480 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2001
Clif Hostetler
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The year 1968 was memorable for me personally. Coincidentally it was a remarkable year for the rest of the world as well. I was attracted to this book by the anticipation that it would provide a time capsule of an era when the baby boomer generation was young and crazy. It's sobering to realize that we are nearing the 50th anniversary of that fateful year.

In January of 1968 I graduated from college with my BS engineering degree which awarded me the necessary credentials to land a job qualifying
Erik Graff
Sep 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
John Machata
Sep 21, 2016 rated it liked it
4-5 for content. 3 for delivery. Interesting, if cumbersome work. Classic Kurlansky. Some parts were great, others pedantic. Worth it if you have the time and interest. NB-I listened to this book- don't do it. The private English school grad who reads the nearly ruined the read for me, particularly his butchering of French and Spanish. I was painfully reminded of one of my favorite author's P.G. Wodehouse, starting line of The Luck of the Bodkins : “Into the face of the young man who sat on the ...more
Patrick Murtha
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mark Kurlansky's 1968: The Year That Rocked the World is an excellent global account of that memorable annus horribilis, focused especially on student protest movements in US, France, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Mexico. The book ranges widely, but doesn't sprawl out of control. The material is consistently interesting, the writing sharp. "Year histories", like "city biographies", is a genre full of potential. Fred Kaplan's 1959: The Year Everything Changed is another good one.
Mar 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 28, 2007 rated it liked it
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.
Disproportionately skewed towards US events. I mean allocating 5-6 pages to Nigerian Civil War&Biafra while devoting more than a hundred to American students' protests? Give me a brake and re-write the coverage of the Soviet invasion to Czechoslavakia. Your account is very shallow.
Simon Wood
Sep 08, 2013 rated it it was ok

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
Oct 01, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Dec 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Columbia Warren
Jan 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dave Biggus
May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
May 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 01, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
After the November election, I got interested in comments about the similarity between 2016 and 1968 so I put together a reading list focused on 1968 for an online book group that follows a single subject, author, place, or period each quarter and started reading. I listened to 1968: The Year that Rocked the World so it took me a long time to finish the book. I found this book to be very enlightening while at the same time I was annoyed by its structure and seeming random allocation of of space ...more
Dec 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Nicholas Lefevre
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
The author is unapologetic in acknowledging that he is not a dispassionate historian in writing this book. 1968 was his second year in college and his focus is on the youth movements of the time. Born two and a half years after Kurlansky, I viewed 1968 from a slightly younger perspective.

I most appreciate the breadth of perspective presented. Kurlansky's scope is worldwide reminding us that trends we saw in the US were worldwide. He brings in France, Poland, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Mexico and o
May 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
I gave this two stars. If I'd rated it based only on my level of enjoyment, I'd have given it only one. I'm cutting it a little slack because I didn't do background research enough to know it isn't about important historical events in 1968 at all.
This is simply a long narrative, from a leftist standpoint, about every protest staged in 1968, basically anywhere in the world. And it seems as though the author considered each and every one of them noble, I guess simply because people were against w
Jan 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who liked Tom Brokaw's book "Boom"
Shelves: history
In 1968 I was a freshman/sophomore in high school. I always felt that if I had been five years older I would have been a hippie in Grant Park. This book put a lot of the events of that year into perspective. I didn't realize that the invasion of Czechoslovakia happened during the Democratic convention. I didn't know there was a student uprising and massacre in Mexico just before the Olympics. I'm glad to have read a historical account of what I lived through but certainly didn't understand.
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

Apr 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Obviously interesting history but marred (IMHO) by uneven--and odd--levels of detail in some places but not in others, some casual interjections of opinion, and a semi-chronological structure that had him bouncing around in time and place probably more than was optimal.

His choice of focal points (the student/youth movements, Czechoslovakia, the 1968 election) were fine. He did have some occasional minor players on which he did a more than casual dive (Poland, France and De Gaulle, feminism, Mexi
Brent Green
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Something changed in 1968. It is called "almost everything." The author takes readers through every wrenching month of that unprecedented year, drawing on painstaking research and the art of a very fine and deliberate writer. More than any other achievement, of which there are many in this book, Kurlansky gives his readers a chance to better understand today ... right now. So much of our current national debates about Iraq, the Patriot Act, and our teetering moral authority in world affairs, spr ...more
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nonfiction
Mark Kurlansky's book does a masterful job of recounting the momentous social, cultural, and political events of 1968. In 1968 I was a 19-year-old American college student, fairly liberal but not radical (RFK supporter, anti-war, non-violent demonstrator). Reading the book reactivated memories that had been dormant for almost 50 years. The worldwide scope of the book also broadened my knowledge and understanding of the era beyond what had been more immediately familiar to me at the time.

I'm conf
Marylori Rieth
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was fascinated by this book having lived through that era. At the time I thought the Viet Nam war was just a terrible waste of human life and didn't understand what the real motives were of the people behind the protests. Mr. Kurlansky made it clear that the movement was about furthering Marxism, establishing world communism and overthrowing the US government and that the New Democrat Party is in sinc with that end. It was interesting how he downplayed the violent terrorism of the Weather Unde ...more
Nick Cox
A fascinating global perspective on a year that included the Paris Riots, The Prague Spring, the Mexico City Olympics and the student massacre that preceded it, the Tet Offensive and My Lai, protests in Poland, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, the public debut of second-wave feminism, and the election of Richard Nixon and the birth of the more right-leaning Republican Party.
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I very much enjoyed this review of the year of my gathering independence, with its expansion from my own experience to a worldwide view. Kurlansky opens with an admission that he was on the side of the rebels, and he writes with that bias. In fact, either he has remarkably good sources or he was there himself for some of the events - probably both. Colorful, visual, and engaging, 1968: THE YEAR THAT ROCKED THE WORLD is a history worthy of an multiple award-winning author.
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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 about Mark Kurlansky...
“It is not an overstatement to say that the destiny of the entire human race depends on what is going on in America today. This is a staggering reality to the rest of the world; they must feel like passengers in a supersonic jetliner who are forced to watch helplessly while a passel of drunks, hypes, freaks, and madmen fight for the controls and the pilot's seat. – Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Ice, 1968” 4 likes
“Children need fairy tales, but it is just as essential that they have parents who tell them about their own lives, so that they can establish a relationship to the past.” 3 likes
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