Sunday, May 30, 2021

Book Review: "The Age of Great Dreams: America in the 1960s" by David Farber

On January 1, 1960, I started the new decade lying on the den floor of our Compton home, eyes glued to the TV. We always watched the Pasadena Rose Parade. Then it was Rose Bowl football, especially when USC (Dad's university) or UCLA (Mom's) played. We were a family of tradition, and I've carried many of ours into my adult life. I was in elementary school, Eisenhower was president and in my young mind all was well.

My last book review was The Fifties. I'm following that with The Age of Great Dreams: America in the 1960s by David Farber. Like The Fifties, this book is organized by major events and themes. It paints a picture of life, culture, economics, politics, science, race relations, and warfare through the decade.

On the right, ready for Camp Fire Girls camp.

While I enjoyed childhood activities, the Nixon-Kennedy election contrasted past values with new ideas. I remember Kennedy's motorcade while family camping in Yosemite. Racism was prominent in Compton and the Watts riots weren't far away.

Christmas with Mom and her extended family.

The first international event I remember was the Cuba missile crisis. It seemed far away, but scary. My parents didn't shield me from world happenings, but they weren't a major focus in our home life. Family support and interactions were at the forefront. It's a value I hold close to my heart.

In college for me, 49er Days rather than protests.

Sixties culture matured during high school and college. Campaigning for Bobby Kennedy clashed with my father's political views. Hearing about the shooting live on my bedroom radio was a huge shock. The Vietnam War and a potential nuclear attack were pressing concerns. 

The 60s for me was a mix of fun and determination to excel in school. What I didn't perceive then was how much I grew up in white privilege. Recent events here in Canada and the United States have brought this into focus. I can't change my past, but I am determined to acknowledge it and work to help and support others however I can. -- Margy


  1. It's is important to understand history. Good choice of book.

  2. Thanks for such an interesting book review. I liked reading how US history and your personal history meshed. I can only imagine what this pandemic will look like in history books.

  3. I too remember the sixties, with all the upheaval going on. That was a time of change for sure. Thanks for reviewing!

  4. Such an amazing decade! I like how you are reviewing the history of your childhood. I was too young to remember the 60s but the changes did affect my lifetime. I can't even imagine this decade will look in history books with climate change, populist presidents, pandemic and xenophobia. I hope the 20s improve!

  5. Margy - your retrospectives accompanied by the book review are so interesting. The only thing I remember about Kennedy being shot is my Mom telling me that she was standing in a grocery store parking lot, very pregnant with me, when she heard the news.

  6. Sounds like a very interesting read, Margy, and so great to have your own recollections alongside the review. Hope you are well!


We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy