1960s Counterculture
Documents Decoded
by Jim Willis
March 2015, 231pp, 8 1/2x11
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-61069-522-0
$96, £74, 84€, A132
eBook Available: 978-1-61069-523-7
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Abbie Hoffman was asked when he was born. “Psychologically, 1960,” he replied.

An era that changed America forever is analyzed through the words of those who led, participated in, and opposed the protest movements that made the 1960s a signature epoch in U.S. culture.

There is no better way to understand the 1960s than to read key speeches and texts from the decade, experiencing firsthand writings that capture a signature sense of passion and conviction. That is exactly the approach taken by this book as it analyzes major protest movements of the era, including the Vietnam War protests, the Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Lib, the hippie movement, and the nascent GLBQT movement.

Organized by movement, the work presents speeches, testimonies, and other important documents side-by-side with accessibly written, expert commentary. The documents and the themes they represent are linked to each other and to events during the decade to put the passionate thinking of the time in context and demonstrate its importance and legacy. By allowing readers to explore the 1960s in this visceral way, the book will provide an engaging learning experience for secondary school and university students, who will also gain helpful insights on how to evaluate historical documents. For the same reason, the volume will be a welcome resource for the general reader interested in understanding—or recalling—why the 1960s produced so many lasting changes in the American psyche.


  • Opens a window on a revolutionary time when Americans stood up and demanded peace and tolerance
  • Highlights the expectations of free speech and equal treatment for all Americans and shows how those expectations were translated into actions
  • Includes background discussion of the 1960s and background discussion of each document
  • Compares and contrasts key passages, encouraging the reader to cross-reference documents within the volume and connect the dots between them
  • Examines exhibits as varied as Abbie Hoffman's testimony at the trial of the Chicago 7, Noam Chomsky's essay "The Function of a University in Time of Crisis," the Port Huron speech of the Students for a Democratic Society, Richard Nixon's Silent Majority speech, and Shirley Chisholm's Equal Rights for Women speech
Jim Willis, PhD, is a writer and professor of journalism at Southern California's Azusa Pacific University. He has authored or coauthored more than a dozen books on the news media, international images, and history. His published works include Daily Life Behind the Iron Curtain, 100 Media Moments that Changed America, and The Human Journalist. Willis holds a doctorate in journalism from the University of Missouri.


"Willis's succinct writing style makes the book accessible as a scholarly text for those already familiar with analysis of the times, and as a supplement for students or history aficionados learning for the first time about the cultural history of the decade. . . . Summing Up: Highly recommended. Undergraduates through faculty/researchers; general audiences; journalists."—Choice, October 1, 2015
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