by Abe Peck ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 24, 1985
A valuable hallmark study of the rise and fall of the alternative press. It is balanced and well researched, incorporating over 100 interviews with former ""underground"" journalists. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, events pulsated onto the pages of the underground press like a strobe light. These tabloids--the freakish East Village Other and its more radical counterpart, Rat, the San Francisco Oracle, Los Angeles Free Press, the Berkeley Barb, Austin Rag and others--recorded the frenetic times that Peck captures in his chapter titles: ""Chicago--Hips, Yips and Power Trips,"" ""The Rat Women and Stonewall."" Currently a professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Peck is an underground press veteran (Rat and Chicago's Seed), later the big Chicago dailies. His perspective is basically partisan, contributing to his occasional failure to convey more thoroughly some negative elements of the decade: its mass hysteria, hero worship, self-serving idealism. Peck traces the stages in the life of the underground press, from ""proto-underground"" of the 1950s and early 1960s when a counterculture took root from the seeds of 1930s radicals and apolitical 1950s Beats. As the 1950s social consensus cracked over civil rights and Vietnam, the baby boomers swelled the counterculture, becoming the audience that made possible an underground press, In 1964, the Los Angeles Free Press began. By 1969, at its peak, the alternative press numbered more than 500 papers with millions of readers. By 1973, with the winding down of the War and the ""movement,"" the papers were disappearing. In his last chapter, ""After the Revolution: Who Are They Now?,"" Peck catches up with former underground journalists who have gone different ways, ""to careers and compromise, to nostalgia and alienation."" Peck concludes from their summations that, ""For all its arguing, the '60s was also a time of pluralism. So is the '80s."" In sum, a useful social analysis of a convulsive era in America, told from a new angle.
Pub Date: May 24, 1985
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1985
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