The Shattering: America in the 1960s

Norton. Oct. 2021. 464p. ISBN 9780393355994. $30. HIST
This history of the 1960s United States by National Book Award winner Boyle (American history, Northwestern Univ.; Arc of Justice) begins with the story of a patriotic middle-class family in 1950s Chicago to set the stage for the tumultuous decade to follow. Boyle’s cleverly written book covers (mostly chronologically) three broad subjects that played out between 1960 and 1972: first, the civil rights movement and activists who dealt with extreme violence and still managed to overturn Jim Crow laws; second, the Vietnam War and U.S. foreign policy and their effects on American youths; and third, government attempts to control sexuality and women’s rights, plus two major rulings on abortion and birth control that started a battle between feminists and religious institutions that still resonates. Boyle dives deep into figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Alabama governor George Wallace and also profiles vitally important people who have been less often written about, including Ella Baker and Estelle Griswold. The book is enhanced by maps of U.S. military conflicts and photographs from the civil rights movement and other events.
VERDICT Fans of Boyle’s previous works and readers of books by Isabel Wilkerson and Jon Meachum will find exceptional research and powerful writing in this outstanding history.
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