The Eve of Destruction

The Eve of Destruction

How 1965 Transformed America

Book - 2012
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Baker & Taylor
Argues that 1965, not 1968, was the most transformative year of the 1960s, discussing attacks on civil rights demonstrators, increased African American militancy, the Watts riots, anti-war protests, and a growing national pessimism.

Perseus Publishing
At the beginning of 1965, the U.S. seemed on the cusp of a golden age. Although Americans had been shocked by the assassination in 1963 of President Kennedy, they exuded a sense of consensus and optimism that showed no signs of abating. Indeed, political liberalism and interracial civil rights activism made it appear as if 1965 would find America more progressive and unified than it had ever been before. In January 1965, President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed that the country had “no irreconcilable conflicts.”

Johnson, who was an extraordinarily skillful manager of Congress, succeeded in securing an avalanche of Great Society legislation in 1965, including Medicare, immigration reform, and a powerful Voting Rights Act. But as esteemed historian James T. Patterson reveals in The Eve of Destruction, that sense of harmony dissipated over the course of the year. As Patterson shows, 1965 marked the birth of the tumultuous era we now know as “The Sixties,” when American society and culture underwent a major transformation. Turmoil erupted in the American South early in the year, when police attacked civil rights demonstrators in Selma, Alabama. Many black leaders, outraged, began to lose faith in nonviolent and interracial strategies of protest. Meanwhile, the U.S. rushed into a deadly war in Vietnam, inciting rebelliousness at home. On August 11th, five days after Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, racial violence exploded in the Watts area of Los Angeles. The six days of looting and arson that followed shocked many Americans and cooled their enthusiasm for the president's remaining initiatives. As the national mood darkened, the country became deeply divided. By the end of 1965, a conservative resurgence was beginning to redefine the political scene even as developments in popular music were enlivening the Left.

In The Eve of Destruction, Patterson traces the events of this transformative year, showing how they dramatically reshaped the nation and reset the course of American life.


Book News
From Lyndon Johnson's lose-lose decision to escalate the Vietnam War to a police attack on civil rights demonstrators in Selma, Alabama, Patterson (emeritus, history, Brown U.) shows how 1965 was the turning point of the 1960s. His discussion of legislative events, such as passage of the Voting Rights Act and the establishment of Medicare seem to bear this out. Sixteen pages of photographs in the middle of the book show both serious issues and cultural phenomena like Muhammad Ali and the early Rolling Stones. Annotation ©2013 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Baker
& Taylor

An award-winning historian backs up his assertion that 1965, not 1968, was the most transformative year of the 1960s, discussing attacks on civil rights demonstrators, increased African American militancy, the Watts riots, anti-war protests and a growing national pessimism. 15,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Basic Books, c2012
ISBN: 9780465013586
0465013589
Characteristics: xvi, 310 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm

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