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18, Marc 2017.

“America in Revolt during the 19660s and 1970s” by Rodney P.Carlisle and Geoffrey Golson.

American in Revolt brings out how alternative and counterfactualhistory can shed light on the immediate past of the US. Numeroushistrionic events of the 1960s and 1970s had a significant effect onthe coming years, still felt presently. It was an era of “revolt”in several ways. Unlike the period of the Second World War and the1950s, the 60s and 70s were characterized by organised protestsagainst policies and conditions. The revolt was mostly in nonviolentdemonstrations, marches, political action, and boycotts, although itsometimes took a violent turn with riots or gunfire. Out of thisperiod, some positive social changes took place. It was also a revoltperiod in that essential changes were necessitated, and some wereachieved. A mixture of events pushed America into recognizing andaddressing issues of racial injustices with administrative changesand legislations expressing recognition of human rights. During thisera, the US was also involved in war with Vietnam, and the war raisedmany questions among the citizens. It was also during this periodthat the US was faced with various assassinations, including that ofPresident John F. Kennedy. America in Revolt during the 19660s and1970s provides an analysis of twelve key turning point events in theUS during this era, and also provides their alternate history if theevents had happened differently (Carlisle, Rodney P, and J. GeoffreyGolson 66). The book offers a unique approach for exploring one ofthe most action-packed periods in the history of America.


The “what if” game has always been a favoured form of politicaldebates. The discussion creates numerous speculations of what mighthave happened differently if certain things had not happened the waythey did. For example, what might have happened if somebody else hadbeen elected president, instead of the actual winner? Whirling outthe outcomes of “what if” scenarios can keep the political losershappily occupied for long. America in Revolt during the 1960s and1970s turns the ‘what if” game to a learning tool. The book is inthe series of the Turning Points Actual and Alternative Histories,and it focuses on the boisterous recent period in the history ofAmerica, a time when critical, often catastrophic, world-changingevents, appeared to be happening at a high rate. The book looks attwelve important happenings, from the assassination of John F Kennedythrough the passing of the Civil Rights Act after the killing ofstudents at Kent state, to the resignation of Richard Nixon (Rury,John &amp Shirley 86). It outlines the actual events and outcomes ofthese important turning points then gives alternate outcomes,providing a speculation on how one event would lead to the other. Thebook provides the alternate view of how the world and the US wouldhave been profoundly different if events had turned out differently.This is a unique way of inciting thoughts of exploring a turbulentera whose aftereffects continue to affect the experience of the USpresently (&quotThe Civil Rights Act Of 1964&quot).

Each chapter of America in Revolt during the 1960s and 1970s providesan analysis of each different event. It introduces the turning pointevent followed by the actual history of the event, then the alternatehistory of this turning point. At the end of each chapter, afterthese presentations, the writers give some discussion questions, aswell as short bibliographies for further reading. As such, America inRevolt is as attractive as much as it is useful. There is sufficientillustration of each event throughout all the chapters. It thenprovides alternate outcomes, wondering how one event would lead tothe next. For example, what other, successive, elections would havebeen changed? What statutes would have passed? What would have not?What leaders who arose from the actual events would have stayed ininconspicuousness? What others would have emerged? How greatlydifferent the US and the world would be if the happenings had turnedout differently? The layout of America in Revolt helps keep theattention on the difference between the actual and speculative sincethe alternate history is given in shaded, text boxes (Carlisle et al.202).

Although histories of intense years of the 60s and 70s are many, noneof them can be compared with American in Revolt. To begin with, manyof them focus on one aspect of this period, rather than the moreall-inclusive approach used by America in Revolt. Most of the titlesconcentrate on one subject, while others are merely biographies ofprominent figures of the time. On the other hand, America in Revolttakes a more innovative approach, which is also more comprehensive.Although speculating on what ought to have happen or what did nothappen can lead one down fruitless paths, America in Revolt sidestepsthis by carefully comparing the actual and the alternate. Throughthis, it achieves its main purpose of teaching, which it doesadmirably.

Out of the turbulent era of the 1960s and 1970s, some positive socialchanges happened in the US. However, some historians and advocatesdebate whether the changes were shallow or deep-rooted, whether thecountry changed with progress or with persistence and worsening ofexisting issues of poverty, sexism, and racism. By exploring thealternatives, one can think through such questions, acquiring someknowledge of whether a progress took place or whether the revolttimes merely allowed a momentary expressing of anger. A combinationof happenings forced the US into acknowledging and tackling issues ofracial discriminations with legislations and administrationsrecognising human rights (&quotThe Civil Rights Act Of 1964&quot).Initially, the movements focused on discrimination against the blackAmericans, but soon the focus spread to address problems affectingother ethnic groups, and minorities such the elderly, the disabled,and women. While the changes were carried out, activism movementsemerged, representing all such groups, and employing strategies suchas voting campaigns, boycotts, non-violent demonstrations andprotests. In the mid-sixties, the government, led by Lyndon Johnson,instigated a war on poverty, which registered few successes.Regardless of the gains, nevertheless, the war on poverty as well asthe goals of the civil rights movements remain on the government’splans.

From the mid-sixties through to the mid-seventies, America wasintensely tangled in the war in Vietnam. An enlarging number ofAmerican citizens came to question the justification of the war andwhether American soldiers should be sacrificed to preserve a corruptanti-communism administration. As a result, public protests increasedand the US progressively withdrew its soldiers and eventually signeda treaty. Within two years after American withdrawal, the regime ithad left in charge in the south was overthrown by North Vietnamese.Furthermore, America was hit by several assassinations of itsprominent leaders. Most of these leaders had a connection with thereform movements, and they included President John F. Kennedy, Blackmovement spokespersons Malcolm X and Martin Luther, and Kennedy’sbrother Robert Kennedy. Other killings of black American youths andhuman rights protesters, and attempts on other leaders stunned thecountry and now and then incited protestors around the foundations ofthese martyrs (Radcliff, Carolyn &ampTerry 23).

When President Richard Nixon ran for his reelection in 1972, a groupfunded by his campaign broke into the offices of the DNC (DemocraticNational Committee) situated in Watergate building in Washington.After the break-in, Nixon and his administration’s officials workedto cover up the connection between the burglary and his reelectioncampaign group, making him an accomplice in a criminal activity. Heopted to resign when he was faced with a threat of impeachment by theSenate, and his resignation as a president went into record as thefirst in American history.

America in Revolt enables us to have to have a deeper insight intoall these events and developments by taking into consideration howthey might have happened differently under somewhat differentsurroundings. If the civil rights movement had faded, or if the waron poverty had turned out more successfully, the conditions in the USwould have been more different in the nineties and in the early 21stcentury. If the US and the South Vietnam had won the war in Vietnam,or if it had withdrawn on time, what would have been the outcomes ofthe war? Likewise, if any of the assassinations had not taken place,the careers of the individuals would have developed differently.Additionally, things would have turned out differently if the leaderswho lived out their lives had been themselves assassinated. Theoutcomes of the impeachment in the Senate would have been known ifNixon had decided to face it rather than resign.

Through the chapters of America in Revolt, we get a deeperunderstanding into the essential developments of the era. Each of thechapters of America in Revolt queries how the outcomes might havebeen different. In some instances, the turning point events in thehistory were shaped by the actions of few individuals. While inothers, the turning point was as a result of a wide set ofsituations, such as a change in political will or the outcome oflegislation. If things had happened slightly different at some ofthese turning point events, we gather, the history of the US as wellas of many other nations would have been different (Radcliff et al.235). Most importantly, by examining the alternatives, the bookallows us to gain more knowledge of the actual history and thelasting effects of the particular events.


America in Revolt brings out the actual history by exploring a dozenof turning point events in the most turbulent era in the history ofAmerica. It also brings out the alternatives, which are the outcomesof the events if things would have worked out slightly different. Inthe actual history, the US went through an era of social andpolitical turbulence, which lead to several reforms, but left deepsocial issues unsolved. The book outlines the actual events andoutcomes of these important turning points. It then gives alternateoutcomes, giving us a speculation on how one event would lead to theother. America in Revolt provides the alternate view of how the worldand the US would have been profoundly different if events had turnedout differently. The book is a teaching tool, and it takes a morecomprehensive and innovative approach to exploring the history. Thusit achieves its main purpose of teaching, admirably well.

Work Cited

Carlisle, Rodney P, and J. Geoffrey Golson. America In RevoltDuring The 1960S And 1970S. 1st ed., Santa Barbara, Calif.,ABC-CLIO, 2008.

Radcliff, Carolyn J., and Terry Ann Mood. &quotSources: America InRevolt During The 1960S And 1970S&quot. Reference &amp UserServices Quarterly, vol 48, no. 2, 2008, pp. 191-191. AmericanLibrary Association.

Rury, John L., and Shirley Hill. &quotAn End Of Innocence:African-American High School Protest In The 1960S And 1970S&quot.History Of Education, vol 42, no. 4, 2013, pp. 486-508. InformaUK Limited.

&quotThe Civil Rights Act Of 1964&quot. Harvard Law Review,vol 78, no. 3, 1965, p. 684. JSTOR.