Barack Obama would not be possible without the Sixties, Tom Hayden writes in his unique and compelling new book. Obama was conceived because of changing mores on interracial marriage; was electable because of the civil rights movement and voting rights laws; and was successful because of a new social movement that applied participatory democracy online and door to door.
Hayden shows that movements throughout history triumph over Machiavellians, gaining social reforms while leaving both revolutionaries and reactionaries frustrated. Only the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King prevented the Sixties from ending with a progressive presidency propelled into power by social movement activism, Hayden says. But the Sixties did leave a critical print on America, from civil rights laws to the birth of the environmental movement, and forced open the political process to women and people of color. Hayden portrays the Reagan and Bush eras as counter-movements against the Sixties which ultimately failed, and the Obama presidency as a delayed achievement.
Chicago’s Grant Park was consciously chosen for Obama’s 2008 victory celebration, according to campaign manager David Axelrod, to “symbolically overcome the damage done to American idealism forty years before.”
Hayden’s carefully researched history includes formidable, if sometimes forgotten, coverage of Sixties achievements as well as a valuable dateline for activists, journalists and historians as the fiftieth anniversary of every episode of that decade approaches.
While accepting President Obama’s centrist positioning, Hayden reminds the new president that the peace movement was critical to his 2008 victory and only a radical populism will make his economic recovery, green jobs and health care promises come to fruition.
Features of this text:
- Lays a framework for analyzing the sixties in a broader movement context
- Offers a persuasive reframing of what the sixties were, and are, about
- Presents engaging vignettes of key moments and figures from Hayden's personal experience as an activist who sparked the sixties movement
"Hayden, a longtime proponent of progressive thought and action, is a fine witness to the pivotal events of the Sixties. In a book both sweeping and reflective, he offers a primer on the era's political and cultural upheavals and an early assessment of President Obama measured against Sixties ideals. . . . This book will introduce a new generation of readers to Hayden and provoke discussion of the impact of the Sixties on the current political scene. With fine notes and a useful 50-page time line; highly recommended."
"This book is valuable as a portrait of an activist of that turbulent era. Recommended."
"With elements of a new Rules for Radicals and knowing takes on such old New Left moments as The Port Huron Statement, Hayden’s book could be a worthy foundational document."
"With the approach of a decade of anniversaries of the 1960s, iconic figure Hayden stakes a strong claim in the ongoing debate over memories of the turbulent time. ... Hayden’s analysis offers a sense of the sweep and depth of reform movements across the U.S. that had been brewing for decades and ignited in the ’60s, including civil rights, women’s rights, gay and lesbian rights, and the green movement. ... [He] combines the fervor of his radical youth and continued commitment to progressive politics, the introspection of his years, and the research and analysis of his academic career in this insightful, passionate look at progressive reform."
—Booklist Starred Review
“A pure product of America’s 1960s movement to change the system, Tom Hayden now takes on the challenge of reexamining the last seventy years through a far more progressive prism than the traditional media. … Meticulous, and penetrating.”
“A compelling effort to get at the essence of the sixties and their continuing impact in the Obama era—by one who was not only a central participant but has continuously reflected on those times for the past fifty years.”
—William Gamson, Boston College
“Tom Hayden thinks the movements of the turbulent sixties were pivotal in shaping much of what came after in American politics. He makes his case brilliantly, drawing on the wisdom bred by half a century of political activism and scholarship, and also on the passion and commitment that made him a leading figure in the movements he analyzes.”
—Frances Fox Piven, author of Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America (2006)
“The Long Sixties is a remarkable fusion of Tom Hayden’s deep reflections on his own experience as a key movement organizer and his deep reading of social movement theory and history. The result not only illuminates that era but helps reframe the half century since. Its synthesis of lived experience and cool analysis makes it the best sixties book for today’s students.”
—Richard Flacks, University of California-Santa Barbara and a collaborator with Tom Hayden on the original Port Huron Statement
“Tom Hayden is an American original. This memoir is more than a riveting guide into the eye of the 1960s revolutionary storms that Hayden himself led. It is a trek into the history and heart of social movements today, showing that the sixties spirit has resurfaced in the people’s voice that elected Barack Obama and will make our future.”
—Charles Derber, author of The Wilding of America and The New Feminized Majority
“Nobody can tell the story of the 1960s and its meaning for today more effectively and movingly than Tom Hayden. A champion of his generation whose Port Huron Statement remains a clarion call for today's youngsters, all these years later, Hayden here places the current dilemmas of the United States before us, insisting they must be solved and then can be solved, not by great experts working in secret but by ordinary Americans engaged in democratic practice.”
—Paul Buhle, editor of Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History, The Beats, and Studs Terkel’s Working: A Graphic Adaptation
"Valuable reading for activists, journalists, and historians ... a must read."
—Free Venice Beachhead
“As we near the fiftieth anniversary of the sixties, Hayden offers an acute and provocative view of how the decade’s hopes and dreams continue to reverberate in the age of Obama. Revisiting his personal experience, Hayden situates the American sixties in a global framework of revolutionary transformations in Europe, Latin America, and Asia in the 1960s and 1970s. The Long Sixties not only analyzes the conflicts between social movements and the forces of the establishment during the cold war, but also explores the tension between the impetus for radical change and the constraints of electoral politics in U.S. history and the contemporary situation. Thus, the book is a forceful reminder that the cultural and political legacies of that decade are still with us today.”