1968: The Year of Hope by Hans Koning

1968: The Year of Hope

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From Dutch-born novelist Koning (America Made Me, DeWitt's War--both 1983) a memoir that looks back in pride, sorrow, and occasional anger at a watershed year in American life. In 1968, Koning was 40 years old and living in N.Y.C., ""drowning in politics both as a writer and as a person, forever summoned to sit-ins on the steps of some building or to march down a street in some demonstration."" Koning feels that the central thrust of 1968 was a ""clarity of perception"" in seeing through all the lies fostered by the government and the media about social and cultural and political life, and, of course, about the Vietnam war. It was the war that helped radicalize Koning, brought him to Movement demonstrations around the country, and even got him an FBI file (later examined under the Freedom of Information Act). Koning is by turns waspish and melancholy; he will have nothing to do with the current revisionist view of the 60's as some great, adolescent, self-indulgent mistake. The pride at helping to stop the war is still there, as is the anger at figures like Mayor Daley of Chicago and Richard Nixon (and Koning takes some accurate potshots at liberal figures like Norman Mailer, who did a great deal of show-boating in those days). The book closes with a call for a ""new language"" that will revive the ideals of the 60's and bring them to a jaded America that fears ""boredom more than death."" An important book for anyone who wants to know what the spirit of the 60's was all about.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1987
Publisher: Norton