The New Yorker Book of the 60s: Story of a Decade

REBEL Editorial || February 16th

Having been born in 1966, I honestly can’t say I “experienced” the 60s and maybe that was the reason I had difficulty identifying with The New Yorker’s take on the decade. While The 60’S: Story of a Decade offers some tasty tidbits of journalism authored by a host of American icons, I felt the overall selection of stories chosen could have better represented the turbulent decade. But, with that being said, the sheer number of stories/articles means there is a little something for everyone.

The New Yorker is approaching a 100 year history of publishing informative, entertaining and provocative essays, stories and reviews that cover virtually every facet of Americana, even though it is predominantly “New York-centric”. The 60s provides a sampling of the magazine’s coverage of a decade that transformed the United States on almost every front. The articles that comprise the book reflect that transformation (politically, socially/culturally and artistically) … the 1960s proved to be a prolific resource for the magazine’s contributors.

The nearly 700 page book is organised into nine chapters (parts) that cover a wide range of topics (from poetry, fiction and sports to social upheaval and encounters with newsworthy individuals of the day). Each part/chapter is prefaced with an introduction from contemporary contributors for contextual purposes. The articles within the chapters are varied and include some of America’s more celebrated writers (Cheever, Capote and Updike, for example). As I stated earlier, there is a little something for everyone. Personally, I could not establish a connecting rhythm with much of the book’s content and found some of the articles/entries rather bland and tedious to read. Then again, there were a few nuggets that caught my attention (I generally do not enjoy fiction, but was enthralled by John Updike’s uneventful short story, A&P). While the book covers the pulse of the decade’s most iconic moments/issues (civil rights, feminism, moon landing, Woodstock, etc.), I was somewhat surprised that topics like the 68 Olympics, Charles Manson and the Altamont festival were not covered. Additionally, it would have really been nice if the book included a chapter with some of the magazine’s 1960s cartoons (it would seem logical to include them in the mix).

I certainly like the idea of sampling the magazine’s articles over decades; the writing quality is noteworthy. While I could not connect with The 60s, I do feel that those who experienced the decade first-hand certainly would. Looking forward, I do hope the magazine’s next offering is dedicated to the 70s … now that’s a decade I can sink my teeth into.

The New Yorker Book of the 60s: Story of a Decade (New Yorker Magazine)
Publisher : Cornerstone Digital
RRP: £30.00