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di di 14:4 & &pc: TOM CAHILL Back to the Future History of the Sixties Watches the Movement Grow BY BOB FISHER THE MOVEMENT AND THE SIXTIES: Protest in America from Greensboro to Wounded Knee. By Terry H. Anderson. Oxford University Press, 1995. 426 pages. $30 cloth; $15.95 paperback. CONTEMPORARY CULTURE may instruct that history is useless “That’s history,” “You’re history” but, as William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.” Reading the attacks on Terry Anderson’s book in the conservative Wall Street Journal and the rightwing Washington Times, it’s obvious that history is not only not dead, but continues to be a central battlefield of the present. “Public memory is contested memory,” said Michael Berenbaum, the director of the U.S. Holocaust Research Institute, speaking to Gustav Neibuhr of The New York Times. “How the decade of the ’80s is remembered is contested memory; how the decade of the ’60s is remembered is contested memory. Part of our political struggle in the United States is how these two decades are remembered.” Neoconservatives see the sixties as an era of irresponsibility, social upheaval, and rebellion. For neoconservative theoreticians such as Irving Kristol, following the lead of conservative philosopher Leo Strauss, the student movement was a’Gnostic rebellion against the limits of life, a ‘ foolish and destructive flight into youthful romanticism. Neocons think the era produced a slew of costly and harmful government programs designed to assist the poor, expand the electorate, increase the representation and power of people of color and women, and regulate corporations. Instead, they argue, government programs cause poverty by creating dependent citizens. Affirmative action programs oppress white men and destroy the meritocracy. Public regulation of corporations undermines the working of the free market, condemning the nation to less prosperity. The reviewers Bob Fisher is a professor in the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Houston, the author of Let The People Decide co-author of Getting Out in Public: Community Work in a Private World \(forthcomin the Wall Street Journal and Washington Times are angry because Anderson is not more critical of the movement and the sixties, which they see as disasters, and because he did not discuss at length conservative student groups of that era. But enough about the neocon critics. Anderson’s superb book \(praised by a number scription of the student movement, and its interaction with the central political events of the years 1960 to 1972. There has been a slew of studies of various aspects of the movement, a growth industry authored by historians as well as participants. Works such as The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement, by Aldon Morris, and Personal Politics: The Origins of Women’s Liberation in the Civil Rights and New Left Movement, by Sara Evans, handle specific issues in more depth and with more critical insight than Anderson’s book. But none, to my knowledge, offers the breadth and accessibility of Anderson’s study. His book covers the civil rights and black power struggles, the student and antiwar movements, the counterculture, the origins of the women’s movement, and so forth, all set against the broader events of the era. Rather than being organized, as are the prior studies, around topics \(such as civil nizational histories \(such as those of the chronology of the period, studying activism as it unfolded on a national scale \(in Austin as well as Ann Arbor, Houston as weaving the various strands of the movement and events of the period into a splendid overview of the rebellions of the era. In a curious way, Anderson’s book reminded me of Frederick Lewis Allen’s cultural history of the 1920s, Only Yesterday. Allen, a contemporary of that era, focused on middle class culture, but his keen eye for the period evoked the primary symbols and events, to give readers both an overview and a feel for the decade. Anderson doesn’t write as felicitously as Allen; Allen’s book was not as politically engaged as Anderson’s. But The Movement and the Sixties has that same ability to evoke its era. This is no simple task, especially since Anderson’s book contains only a few photographs and no accompanying soundtrack. \(There is, however, a video series on “The Sixties,” which aired on PBS and for which Anderson served as an adviTHE TEXAS OBSERVER 15