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Times They Were a-Changin
Times They Were a-Changin
by Robert McElvaine

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First Edition. Signed.

Price: $45.00


New York, NY: Simon and Schuster (June 7, 2022)

First Edition. Signed.

As new in dust jacket.

An award-winning historian on the transformative year in the sixties that continues to reverberate in our lives and politics—for readers of Heather Cox Richardson.

If 1968 marked a turning point in a pivotal decade, 1964—or rather, the long 1964, from JFK’s assassination in November 1963 to mid-1965—was the time when the sixties truly arrived. It was then that the United States began a radical shift toward a much more inclusive definition of “American,” with a greater degree of equality and a government actively involved in social and economic improvement.

It was a radical shift accompanied by a cultural revolution. The same month Bob Dylan released his iconic ballad “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” January 1964, President Lyndon Johnson announced his War on Poverty. Spurred by the civil rights movement and a generation pushing for change, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and the Immigration and Nationality Act were passed during this period. This was a time of competing definitions of freedom. Freedom from racism, freedom from poverty. White youth sought freedoms they associated with black culture, captured imperfectly in the phrase “sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll.” Along with freedom from racist oppression, black Americans sought the opportunities associated with the white middle class: “white freedom.” Women challenged rigid gender roles. And in response to these freedoms, the changing mores, and youth culture, the contrary impulse found political expression in such figures as Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, proponents of what was presented as freedom from government interference. Meanwhile, a nonevent in the Tonkin Gulf would accelerate the nation's plunge into the Vietnam tragedy.

In narrating 1964’s moment of reckoning, when American identity began to be reimagined, McElvaine ties those past battles to their legacy today. Throughout, he captures the changing consciousness of the period through its vibrant music, film, literature, and personalities.

Robert S. McElvaine is the Elizabeth Chisholm Distinguished Professor of Arts & Letters and Professor of History at Millsaps College. He is the author of seven books, including The Great Depression: America, 1929–1941 and Eve’s Seed: Biology, the Sexes, and the Course of History, and is the editor of three. Among his many honors are the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence and the B. L. C. Wailes Award for national distinction in the field of history. He has served as historical consultant for several television programs, including the PBS series The Great Depression, and has written more than one hundred articles and opinion pieces in such national publications as the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Nation, and Newsweek. He has been a guest on about the same number of television and radio programs. He lives in Clinton, Mississippi.

“Benefiting from the insights and wisdom of Robert S. McElvaine, a renowned scholar who has studied and lived through the period, ‘The Times’ reflects upon the era’s consequential yet thorny legacy through an illuminating, provocative and entertaining lens. … The book shines when serving as a reminder of why the public remains infatuated with the decade. The 1960s, McElvaine explains, ‘still define the political, social, cultural, and economic battle lines along which Americans contend today.’”—Washington Post Book World

“The Times They Were a-Changin’ is a riveting book on the progressive advances that were achieved in 'the Long 1964.' McElvaine presents vivid details and unapologetic truths that can help to thwart rightwing radicals’ plans to annihilate the progress we have made toward equality. This eye-opening book makes clear the reasons society must study past mistakes to prevent them from reoccurring.”—Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, Chairman, House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on U.S. Capitol

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