Friday, August 21, 2009

"1959: The Year that Changed Everything"

Just finished reading Fred Kaplan's "1959: the Year Everything Changed", and while I'm not convinced  1959 qualifies as the singular hinge year of the 20th century, I'm not sure that matters (even to Kaplan), and it's a good book in any case.

He analyzes and weaves together a wide variety of events, e.g.: Castro seizing power in Cuba; Allen Ginsberg reading poetry to rapt audiences in New York; the Lunik 1 spacecraft breaking free of Earth's orbit; William Burroughs publishing "Naked Lunch"; John Howard Griffen publishing "Black Like Me"; Miles Davis recording "Kind of Blue"; John Coltrane, "Giant Steps"; Dave Brubeck, "Time Out"; Ornette Coleman, "The Shape of Jazz to Come"; Jack Kilby introducing the integrated circuit (the microchip); IBM selling the first 'modern' computer: the model 1401;  Malcolm X traveling to Mecca; the opening of Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum;  Searl Pharmaceuticals submitting Enovid, a.k.a. the birth control pill, for FDA approval, etc., etc .

The common theme is a sense of liberation from traditional constraints (e.g., hackneyed art, pervasive racism, the 'tyranny of numbers', and an optimism (and dread) toward the emerging "new frontier" in politics, technology, and art.

1 comment:

  1. Now that CAS and MyResearch module is activated, I've copied this book review to yu-dev as well.