Historical Dictionary of the 1960s

Historical Dictionary of the 1960s

Historical Dictionary of the 1960s

Historical Dictionary of the 1960s

Synopsis

Few eras in U.S. history have begun with more optimistic promise and ended in more pessimistic despair than the 1960s. When J.F.K. became president in 1960, the U.S. was the hope of the world. Ten years later American power abroad seemed wasted in the jungles of Indochina, and critics at home wondered whether the U.S. was really the "land of the free and the home of the brave." This book takes an encyclopedic look at the decade--at the individuals who shaped the era, the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, and the youth rebellion. It covers the political, military, social, cultural, religious, economic, and diplomatic topics that made the 1960s a unique decade in U.S. history.

Excerpt

There is a schizophrenic quality to American life in the 1960s. Perhaps the term "manic" decade would be appropriate. Few other eras in U.S. history have begun with more optimistic promise and ended in more pessimistic despair. When John F. Kennedy entered the White House in January 1961, the United States was the hope of the world, the repository of morality and power, and the president pretended to have the will to exercise that virtue and might in support of freedom, democracy, capitalism, and progress. Ten years later, American power abroad seemed wasted, even dissipated, in the jungles of Indochina, and critics at home cast doubt on whether the United States really was the "land of the free and the home of the brave." The assassination of President John F. Kennedy marked the beginning of the change, but it was followed by other assassinations, the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, the youth rebellion, campus protest, and repeated riots in American cities, all of which blamed the country's problems on its existing institutions.

Americans had long held the view that the United States was a democratic, egalitarian nation, but protests from African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and women brought that conviction into doubt. The idea that the Constitution protected the average citizen from abuses of government power came into question over Vietnam and the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Finally, Americans had long prided themselves on being the world's only hope for downtrodden, oppressed people, but as the Vietnam War escalated in the 1960s, the image of the United States as a global bully became much more common.

In Historical Dictionary of the 1960s, I have tried to take an encyclopedic look at the decade. Readers should know that I wrote all of the unsigned entries. An asterisk following a term indicates that it is a main entry. In addition to biographies of prominent individuals, I have included a variety of political, military, social, cultural, religious, economic, and diplomatic topics that made . . .

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