Book rec

Being at the whiplash end of the Baby Boom (they had all the fun, we got left with Ronald Reagan and AIDS), tales of the '60s  fascinate me. Those of us born in and around 1960 couldn't be more different from leading-edge Boomers, who from a distance of 10 or 15 years seemed like crazy older siblings hyped up on music and drugs. Free love? Communal living? LSD? What were they thinking?

The young men in my class never faced conscription nor the prospect of fighting a questionable war. Unlike the older members of our generation, many of our fathers never saw combat, never returned from war with scars from Okinawa, Normandy or liberating these camps filled with ghosts and the tortured survivors of the Holocaust. (For a compelling tale of growing up as the child of a liberator, read our friend Leila Levinson's new book, Gated Grief).

Without Nixon and the war and survivor guilt, we didn't feel a need to drop out. We joined fraternities and sororities (I didn't, but others did),got master's degrees, pursued careers and figured out that free love was only "free" for men. Some of us rebelled in small ways by eschewing corporate jobs and working at home or raising kids in non-nuclear families, but mostly, we've been pretty dull.

For a look at the more interesting members of our generation, read T.C. Boyle's remarkable novel Drop City (named for the Colorado-based commune founded in the mid-'60s). In it he takes an unflinching look at the idealism, irresponsibility, hard work and naivete of the hippies. 

I remember watching TV with my grandpa as a small child and seeing demonstrations with long-haired kids protesting the war. "Don't you ever do that," he said.

I didn't. But it sure is interesting that some folks did.

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