THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING: A Young Man Looks at Youth's Dissent by Mark Gerzon

THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING: A Young Man Looks at Youth's Dissent

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Another book on youth culture--and a good one--by a member of the Harvard class of '70, who aims to explain the behavior of the younger generation to people on the other side of the gap. Among the phenomena examined: youthful rejection of the draft, of the war, of business, and of our racial hypocrisies; youthful embrace of the absurd vision of life, of premarital sex and other intense involvements; youthful experimentation with drugs (a ""simulated rite de passage"" for individuals hungry to be ""tested by experience""). Not an original thinker but an effective synthesizer, Gerzon pulls together the theses put forth by others like David Riesman, Kenneth Keniston, and William S. Whyte, as to why the last two decades have produced a group whose politics are grounded not in monolithic fears (to youth, the Red menace is Alger history) but in empathy (we're all the same since we all live under the threat of the Bomb); and whose deepest wishes are not for ""jobs"" and ""success"" but for self-knowledge and a fullness of personal relations. To these interpretations the lyrics of Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, and the Beatles, freely quoted, provide grace notes. At some points it seems that Gerzon has bought the Madison Avenue sell on American adults--he sees James Bond as the adult ""sociosexual ideal incarnate."" But on the whole he is generous and respectful of his seniors, whose formative experience was so different from his own. Older people who read this thoughtful essay may wind up agreeing with the author that ""America needs the attitudes of its youth.

Pub Date: July 25th, 1969
Publisher: Viking