1959: The Year Everything Changed
While conventional accounts focus on the sixties as the era of pivotal change that swept the nation, Fred Kaplan argues that it was 1959 that ushered in the wave of tremendous cultural, political, and scientific shifts that would play ou...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
After reading the book, I agree with the author that much of life as we experience it in 2017 is rooted in the year 1959. Even more surprising, our politics in America seem eerily similar to 1959. So what ...more
First, though it is never stated explicitly on the jacket, this book completely focuses on 1959 in the United States. You won't find any stories about the election of Charles De Gaulle, the marriage of Prince Akihito to a commoner, the revolution in the Dominican Republic, or the flight and exile of the Dalai Lama.
The articles move in chronological order, and as a result there are three topics that are returned to repeatedly: th ...more
This audiobook made a long round-trip via ground transporation, made during the holidays with the usual delays and heavy traffic, much more enjoyable.
This book belongs to a school of historical storytelling which I am pleased to call the Herodutus School of History Writing. It could also be less charitably called the Attention Deficit Disorder School. I enjoy reading books of this type very much, allowing myself to be transported by t ...more
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
It's interesting when he's talking about changes in science, world affairs, politics, racial strife, etc. He spends waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much time talking about jazz, which is stupid, and other world-changing literature of the day. Some of that is cool, but he utterly fails to mention the Twilight Zone, which debuted in 59. (Boo.)
Still, interes ...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
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
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
“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.
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
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
In any case his stuff on "Kind of Blue" and "The Shape of Jazz ...more
There is a lot of good information in this book but there is a lot of distracted meandering around too. Each of the chapters reads like a undergrad's hurried history term papers. There is not a lot of depth and a lot of filler before a short point. You might learn as much from the Wikipedia article on 1959 but the book 1959 is at least usually better written.