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American Hippies
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Book description

In the late 1960s and early 1970s hundreds of thousands of white middle-class American youths suddenly became hippies. This short overview of the hippie social movement in the United States examines the movement's beliefs and practices, including psychedelic drugs, casual sex, and rock music, as well as the phenomena of spiritual seeking, hostility to politics, and communes. W. J. Rorabaugh synthesizes how hippies strived for authenticity, expressed individualism, and yearned for community. Viewing the tumultuous Sixties from a new angle, Rorabaugh shows how the counterculture led to subsequent social and cultural changes in the United States with legacies including casual sex, natural foods, and even the personal computer.


'W. J. Rorabaugh brings the clarity of close historical research to the colorful chaos of the counterculture. In the process, he helps both old and young readers gain a better understanding of the late sixties and early seventies.'

Edward Berkowitz - George Washington University, Washington DC

'Rorabaugh’s American Hippies is the most comprehensive account I know of the strange escape routes the young sought from a suffocating culture, and what happened when their search for another way of life landed them in a rich but morally impoverished world that wasn’t ready for them.'

Todd Gitlin - Columbia University, New York

'Here, finally, is a comprehensive, balanced, and refreshingly accessible account of the origins, values, lifestyle, and legacy of the sixties counterculture. Rorabaugh’s broadly focused, concise, and compulsively readable synthesis is a most welcome addition to the expanding, though often overly specialized and case-specific, literature on the hippies. I look forward to introducing American Hippies to my students.'

Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo - St Mary's College, California

‘In his brief yet effective survey of the hippies of the 1960s and early 1970s, historian Rorabaugh presents a topical overview … The book's overriding themes, which Rorabaugh summons in his conclusion as 'hippie legacies’, are authenticity, individualism, and community … Whereas most studies treat political radicals of the sixties as distinctly separate from hippies, Rorabaugh examines the relationship between the two camps in an effective chapter. He concludes with an insightful chapter on communes, the essential example of community. Rorabaugh achieves a nice balance, recognizing the hippie imprint without waxing nostalgic, acknowledging hippie naiveté and anti-intellectualism without becoming hypercritical. Summing up: recommended.’

A. J. Dunar Source: Choice

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