In many ways, this momentous year led us to where we are today. Whether through youth and music, politics and war, economics and the media, Mark Kurlansky shows how 12 volatile months transformed who we were as a people. But above all, he gives a new insight into the underlying causes of the unique historical phenomenon that was the year 1968.
Enjoy Mark Kurlansky's books? Listen to an interview with the author on To the Best of Our Knowlege.
©2004 Mark Kurlansky; (P)2004 New Millennium Audio
"In this highly opinionated and highly readable history, Kurlansky makes a case for why 1968 has lasting relevance in the United States and around the world. Whether you agree or disagree with its points, you'll find it makes for fascinating reading." (Dan Rather)
Important note- my 1 star rating is solely due to the quality of the narration- I loved the book, as I've loved all of Mark Kurlansky's books, but the reader in this recording is positively awful. The choice of a reader with a very pronounced, almost affected, British accent struck me as odd, but as others have noted, his often bizarre mis-pronounciations are so distracting that I would certainly have requested a refund if I'd paid full price.
The reader is apparently unfamiliar with names like Phil Ochs- he pronounces it 'Awks' (thoough later he pronounces Arthur Ochs Sulzberger's middle name as 'oaks'). Thelonius Monk is called 'Thelanus'. My favorite, though, is Robert Lowell, whose surname is at first repeatedly pronounced so as to rhyme with 'towel', though a few chapters later, it is unaccountably pronounced normally.
Unfamiliarity with the pronunciation of some pretty well known names is bad enough, but then there are the real howlers- doctoral is pronounced 'doctoreeal', and Earl Warren is quoted on the need to 'revolve' the conflict between the generations.
Hands down- the worst narration of any Audible production I've heard- and I've been a Serious Listener since the subscription program began.
My advice- wait until they re-record the book with an acceptable narrator, or read the hard copy. The book is worth reading, but this narration is definitely not the way to do it.
The book is ok - but no better than that. Unfortunately, that's the good news. I could not recommend the audio version because the reader has not bothered to learn the correct pronunciation of words or names in any language other than UK Engish. He mangles American names (and there are many), he mangles Slavic names and words (and there are many), and he kills that most beautiful language of all-French. It's comical to hear him attempt "Ho-Ho-Ho Chi Minh-the NLF is Going to Win!" It seems like quality control really slipped up on this book--the errors aren't even consistent from one part of the book to the next.
While somewhat interesting to see all that was going on in the world in 1968, the book doesn't hang well together, never seems to get going, then ends abruptly. I was hoping for a lot more detaield history from what seemed like a fairly long book.
And a book with so much American culture needs an American narrator. The many pronuncuation mistakes were distracting.
This is one of the best books I've listened to in years. Being born in Chicago in the late 1960's I grew up hearing a lot about the Chicago Democratic convention as well as the Prague Spring and, of course, the various civil rights marches and actions. This book did a tremendous and entertaining job of providing the historical background to those events to a depth I had never before heard.
Right at the start of the book the author notes that while he is trying to be as objective as he can it is impossible to write a book without some bias. This shows through quickly as he clearly is a bit starry eyed over the student movements of the time. That said, his bias doesn't get in the way of the facts. For instance, he tells how the various factions in the student movements had different agendas (and sometimes no real agenda).
While normally I would strongly dislike such bias in a book about historical events, in this case it added to the book as it helped show the feelings of the participants in a way a dispassionate voice couldn't hope to.
Overall this is an excellent book for anyone looking to get a better understanding of the events of that era and what led to them.
I enjoyed the interweaving of the more familiar events in the US with the events in both Western and Eastern Europe - it gave a fresh summary and perspective to a year that's been oft-covered.
Rob Shapiro would have been great. The narrator was quite irritating with his mispronunciations.
I hesitated to download this one because of the comments about the narrator, but did anyway because the author/story seemed promising. Glad I did - the narrator is rather awful, but the book was still worth it. And if you've listed to
Excellent book, my only complaint is the naration, should have been an American rather than an Englishman. Many pronounciations were off putting.
Kurlansky offers a detailed history of a truly pivotal period in American - and World - history with 1968. Many of the events we see today, especially political, (Judicial fillibusters, anyone?) can be traced back to this chaotic period. Unfortunately, the book is - for me, at least - somewhat difficult to follow. Much of the blame must be placed with the narrator. As others have noted, phrasings and pronounciations are often unusual, inconsistent, or just plain wrong. In addition, the reader's voice tends toward an odd - and to my ears - unpleasant articulation that becomes grating. But I also wonder about the structure of the book - in general, events are transcribed chronologically, and we end up hearing about individuals at many different points in time. Perhaps a more thematic approach would have produced an easier to follow presentation.
Bottom Line: You'll learn a lot - but you'll have to work at it.
This is a very insightful book about a year in which so many significant events occurred. Events that did not change the world, but in many ways, changed the way the world acts. There are many lessons for today.
Given it’s global scale, Christopher Cazenove, I believe was a great choice for narrator. His work has been criticised here, but I found his performance to be wonderful. Cazenove, a British actor, speaks with his native British accent. Not only did he do a fine job of reading Mark Kurlansky’s marvellous book, but he helped demonstrate that the book was not taking an American view of the world, which I did not believe it did.
One of the lessons from 1968 is that global events are connected, even if those involved don’t realise it. Listening to a book read by someone who pronounces names and words differently than yourself helps connect you to the world.
There are many ways to pronounce “tomato”. There is not a "correct way".
I was going to point out the mispronunciatons, but I see that I am not the first to notice them. Even with the egregious mispronunciatons and snooty (to my mid-Atlantic USA ear) accent, I think this could be a good reader if he had a little help or worked a little harder, but the inconsistencies are hard to excuse. For instance, the name Marcuse is said, at first, as two syllables, and then is corrected to three syllables. If he discovered the correct pronunciation, why didn't he go back and reread the parts where he said the name wrong?
Here in Maryland, we refered to SNCC as "Snick" when speaking. We did not say each letter separately, as the reader does. But maybe that was just here. If I had been the author I would have written that pronunciation into the book if it is the general one. How else would those unfamiliar with the organization know how to say it? And then there was "poetry." When I strained my ears and relistened to his references to poetry, I could believe that was what he was really saying. But without the ear strain it consistently sounded like "perjury."
Still, it wasn't a monotone reading, and the book itself was a good reminder of what happened in my youth.
I have read all of Kurlansky and thoroughly enjoyed all of his works. This, however, is a flop. It seems to be written for extraterrestrials as becomes evident when read by Cazenove who is evidently from a different planet (he matriculated at Oxford and is a sterling example of an upper-class twit, which, I suppose, comes to the same thing).
I am roughly the same age as both author and narrator, so the events are, as youthful events always seem or ought to be for us old codgers, fairly lively. Mr. Kurlansky seems not to have remembered much, so this is not a personal history.
The political events and biographies of key figures are available from a number of sources, but Mr. Kurlansky seems to have researched social events perusing Time/Life archives. Neither magazine has improved much over the years, but at the time they were treated as laughably clueless by those of us who were the subjects of their screeds. So, ignore the social history: it is truly banal.
The political history is generally acceptable, but there are other, better sources. Listen to all of his other books and give this one a pass.
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