TWILIGHT OF THE YOUNG: The Radical Movements of the 1960s and Their Legacy by Klans Mehnert

TWILIGHT OF THE YOUNG: The Radical Movements of the 1960s and Their Legacy

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That the Sixties were characterized by, among other things, a burst of highly visible activity by the world's youth is generally accepted. But, under scrutiny, the common threads linking the widely divergent manifestations of that phenomenon break down. Mehnert is a veteran German sociologist-journalist who has taught at Berkeley and Columbia and written two related books, Peking and the New Left (1969) and Moscow and the New Left (1975). This wide-ranging survey takes him through the American and European ""New Left,"" the Chinese Red Guard, rural communes in the US, German terrorists, Czech protestors, and much more. Too much, in fact. He indiscriminately covers topics like sex and drugs, ecology and social work, bombs and organic vegetables. Is there really a link between the Baader-Meinhof Gang and students taking their children or dogs to class with them? Surely not for serious social analysis. Often, Mehnert includes movements--such as feminism--which are not restricted to youth at all. Besides, or maybe because of, the catch-all nature of his content, he also cannot decide what he thinks about it: sometimes he subsumes the Sixties under a general conception of generational revolt which he links to the release of social tension; at other times he seems to feel that there was something distinctive about the era, relating it to a vague idea of the technological aspects of contemporary society. Running through both tendencies is a persistent paternalism--Mehnert seems genuinely amused at the revolutionary pretensions of his subjects, confident that their actions, in whatever form, can be safely filed under his sociological categories and disposed of.

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 1977
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston