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1968: The Year That Rocked the World

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  2,571 ratings  ·  325 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;
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Paperback, 480 pages
Published January 11th 2005 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published December 30th 2003)
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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
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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
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Larry Bassett
Jul 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, history, kindle
I listened to this book in the audible version six years after first reading it. I had forgotten from my first reading that much of this book is about events In other parts of the world in addition to the US. We spend a lot of time in Poland and Czechoslovakia and France. Sometime in Mexico and Canada. The focus in many countries is on demonstrations by students. Because I was also following along in the e-book, I have added many excerpts from the book.

I was strangely detached from many of the e
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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
Pamela
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1968: The Year That Rocked the World is a political book so if you are looking for a year-in-review type of thing, you won't find it here. It's not full of movie stars although it mentions some famous movies, and it doesn't talk about fashion or artists or music, although it gives mention to all three. No, this is all about the startling political events of 1968. Not just those in the USA either but the ones all over the world. 1968 was that kind of year. The author even starts out by stating hi ...more
Claire
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good distillation of the social feeling, collective consciousness of youth and subsequent political events of the time, as the post-war generation begins to come of age.

It goes into the details of events surrounding the Tet Offensive, the Prague Spring and the later failed invasion of Prague by the Soviets that lead to the downfall of communism in East Europe. It covers the boredom and frustration in France that lead to the 22 March Movement that would culminate in the student protests o
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Scottnshana
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
Noah Goats
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
One good thing about this book is that it has about 450 fewer dreadfully boring pages dedicated to the subject of salt than the last book by Kurlansky that I read.

I seem to like books about specific years: 1117 BC, 1066, 1215, 1776, 1927, I liked them all. So when I came across 1968 I thought, here’s a book for me. But then I saw the author’s name and hesitated. Wasn’t this the guy who wrote that inexplicably critically acclaimed and appallingly unreadable book about salt?

But it turns out that
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Mjspice
There's so much info in this to process but I will say that the parallels between 1968 & 2018 are INSANE. It's like we learned so much yet at the same time didn't. Heck we even have people with the same surnames or personalities in the same position of the world leaders back then..

I also read this book alongside Buzzfeed News's miniseries titled Future History which showcases the year 1968 through the screen of a smartphone. It helped a lot with visualization & even provides info that wasn't in
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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.
M.L. Rio
An engaging and comprehensive (political) history, but the sheer scope necessitates a sacrifice of nuance. To provide one example, Kurlansky’s account of the Clean-Ins suggests uncomplicated cooperation between the Diggers and the Yippies, et al, when most Digger literature—including Emmett Grogan’s autobiography—attest that this was not the case at all. (Grogan’s feelings toward Abbie Hoffman and his media circus mostly seesawed between exasperation and contempt.) Perhaps a minor oversight in t ...more
Bob
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.
Revanth Ukkalam
This is one of the most readable and entertaining history books I have read. Kurlansky assumes little prior knowledge on the part of the reader - he narrates the origins of the Vietnam War, the formation of NATO and Warsaw Pact and the foundations of the cold war, history of the early decades of the century in Mexico etc - sometimes perhaps to the bemusement to the regular history reader. What Kurlansky manages to pull off is extremely rare: pushing the reader to the times so that he can feel an ...more
Dеnnis
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. ...more
Simon Wood
Sep 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
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Blyden
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
Darlene
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
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Brian
Nov 01, 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
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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.
Christopher
Currently in the home stretch of the first of three books I plan to read this year that chronicle the year 1968, often referred to as one of the single most tumultuous years in American history:

1968: The Year That Rocked the World - Mark Kurlansky
The Year the Dream Died: Revisiting 1968 in America - Jules Witcover
1968 in America: Music, Politics, Chaos, Counterculture & the Shaping of a Generation - Charles Kaiser

Of the three, I'm really looking forward to The Year the Dream Died. Its author, Ju
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Cathryn Conroy
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was in eighth grade when 1968 dawned, too immature and self-centered to fully appreciate the truly momentous, spirit-shattering and world-changing events—the effect of which is still felt 50 years later. And that is why I read this outstanding book by Mark Kurlansky. This is not an easy read; it is a history book, after all, and will demand your full attention. But it is so worth the effort and time because it offers perspective.

From Moscow to Mexico, Berkeley to Biafra and Prague to Poland,
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Casey
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A great book, providing a detailed history of one of the most important single years in the 20th century. The author, Mark Kurlansky, is most well known for food related books (Cod, Salt, Big Oyster), so I was surprised to see him as an author of this topic but was certainly impressed with his work. He was an admitted participant of 1968 and starts off by explaining how his holistic research of that year gave him a very different perspective than what he remembered. He puts 1968 on parallel with ...more
Benjamin Fasching-Gray
May 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: resistance
Having loved both Salt and Cod, I am a bit disappointed with 1968. Too Boomerish, really, or better, too white and too male. He is at his best here in the chapters where he spoke to people involved and at his worst when relying too heavily on the New York Times. But he gives the impression that the noble, nonviolent civil rights movement was important mainly as a training ground for white SDSers and the women’s movement gets very little attention, and Black Power was a bad scene and the Black Pa ...more
Alexandra
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
Diana
Oct 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: audible
My friend Darlene recommended this book and I was eager to read it because we have similar tastes in books. I didn’t like it as much as she did. I suspect that had to do with the Audible narrator and the quality of the recording. The narrator had a British accent. While the book did portray events around the world most of it took place in the US and the narrator mispronounced quite a few names and places (e.g., Betty FREE-dan instead of Free-DAN) which was distracting.

That aside, everyone knows
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Lauren Hiebner
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Boy, this book sure brought back memories since I lived through those years as a teenager! Kurlansky does a great job of comparing the protest movements taking place simultaneously in the various countries in the world. In the U.S. the author focused on the Civil Rights and anti-war movements. In Europe and Mexico it is opposition to oppressive governments both Communist or non-communist governments alike. These oppressive governments used similar tactics to maintain control of society. Also in ...more
Don
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
1968: The Year That Rocked the World by Mark Kurlansky is the book I wish I had started reading on January 1st of this year, rather than being one of the last books I read in 2018. The book brought back many memories of a tumultuous time, much like the turmoil of the past two years. Early in the book the author states “From the outset of the year, the United States seemed to be run by fear.” To me, that sounds much like what has been happening all around the world for the past few years but is e ...more
Harley
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great book that should be read by everyone who was alive in 1968 as well as those who have been born since. Kurlansky has done his research and gives us insight into many of the events both in America and around the world. As someone who lived through many of these events, I enjoyed reminiscing.
Mihai Dascalu
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
I've been waiting for this book for the past 49 years. Thank you!
James Roane
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very good read. I vaguely remember '68, I was 10 at the time. Many of headlines I knew but obviously much of the details and background I was not familiar with.
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Mark Kurlansky has written, edited, or contributed to twenty books, which have been translated into twenty-five languages and won numerous prizes. His previous books Cod, Salt, 1968, and The Food of a Younger Land were all New York Times best-sellers.

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