The Spirit of '68: Rebellion in Western Europe and North America, 1956-1976

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In virtually all corners of the Western world, 1968 witnessed a highly unusual sequence of popular rebellions. In Italy, France, Spain, Vietnam, the United States, West Germany, Czechoslovakia, Mexico, and elsewhere, millions of individuals took matters into their own hands to counter imperialism, capitalism, autocracy, bureaucracy, and all forms of hierarchical thinking. Recent reinterpretations have sought to play down any real challenge to the socio-political status quo in these events, but Gerd-Rainer Horn's book offers a spirited counterblast. 1968, he argues, opened up the possibility that economic and political elites on both sides of the Iron Curtain could be toppled from their position of unnatural superiority to make way for a new society where everyday people could, for the first time, become masters of their own destiny. Furthermore, Horn contends, the moment of crisis and opportunity culminating in 1968 must be seen as part of a larger period of experimentation and revolt. The ten years between 1956 and 1966, characterised above all by the flourishing of iconoclastic cultural rebellions, can be regarded as a preparatory period which set the stage for the non-conformist cum political revolts of the subsequent 'red' decade (1966-1976). Horn's geographic centres of attention are Western Europe, including the first full examination of Mediterranean revolts, and North America. He placed particular emphasis on cultural nonconformity, the student movement, working class rebellions, the changing contours of the Left, and the meaning of participatory democracy. His book will make fascinating reading for anyone interested in this turbulent period and the fundamental changes that were wrought upon societies either side of the Atlantic.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Nonconformists Prepare the Terrain
5
Student Activism in the 1960s
54
The WorkingClass Dimension of 1968
93
The Old the New and the Far Left
131
The Meaning of 1968
190
A Moment of Crisis and Opportunity
228
Bibliographic Essay
241
Index
253
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

Gerd-Rainer Horn is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Warwick.

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