The Eve of Destruction: How 1965 Transformed America

The Eve of Destruction How Transformed America At the beginning of the U S seemed on the cusp of a golden age Although Americans had been shocked by the assassination in of President Kennedy they exuded a sense of consensus and optimis

  • Title: The Eve of Destruction: How 1965 Transformed America
  • Author: James T. Patterson
  • ISBN: 9780465013586
  • Page: 388
  • Format: Hardcover
  • At the beginning of 1965, the U.S seemed on the cusp of a golden age Although Americans had been shocked by the assassination in 1963 of President Kennedy, they exuded a sense of consensus and optimism that showed no signs of abating Indeed, political liberalism and interracial civil rights activism made it appear as if 1965 would find America progressive and unifiAt the beginning of 1965, the U.S seemed on the cusp of a golden age Although Americans had been shocked by the assassination in 1963 of President Kennedy, they exuded a sense of consensus and optimism that showed no signs of abating Indeed, political liberalism and interracial civil rights activism made it appear as if 1965 would find America progressive and unified than it had ever been before In January 1965, President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed that the country had no irreconcilable conflicts Johnson, who was an extraordinarily skillful manager of Congress, succeeded in securing an avalanche of Great Society legislation in 1965, including Medicare, immigration reform, and a powerful Voting Rights Act But as esteemed historian James T Patterson reveals in The Eve of Destruction, that sense of harmony dissipated over the course of the year As Patterson shows, 1965 marked the birth of the tumultuous era we now know as The Sixties, when American society and culture underwent a major transformation Turmoil erupted in the American South early in the year, when police attacked civil rights demonstrators in Selma, Alabama Many black leaders, outraged, began to lose faith in nonviolent and interracial strategies of protest Meanwhile, the U.S rushed into a deadly war in Vietnam, inciting rebelliousness at home On August 11th, five days after Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, racial violence exploded in the Watts area of Los Angeles The six days of looting and arson that followed shocked many Americans and cooled their enthusiasm for the president s remaining initiatives As the national mood darkened, the country became deeply divided By the end of 1965, a conservative resurgence was beginning to redefine the political scene even as developments in popular music were enlivening the Left.In The Eve of Destruction, Patterson traces the events of this transformative year, showing how they dramatically reshaped the nation and reset the course of American life.

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    One thought on “The Eve of Destruction: How 1965 Transformed America

    1. Karen

      Patterson's look back at 1965 primarily focuses on three issues: Vietnam, LBJ's "Great Society" and civil rights. He brings these issues together into his main thesis which is that 1965 was both the peak of the Great Society -- and of our belief in government -- and the year that set the stage for what we think of as the turbulent 60's.1965 began with about 23,000 "military advisors" in Vietnam and ended with 185,000 combat troops on the ground. Even though President Johnson privately acknowledg [...]

    2. John Kennedy

      It's good to be reminded of how much society has changed since — for women, for minorities, for students. The book details how LBJ's ambitious legislative agenda ushered in Medicare, expanded civil rights protections, immigration leniency, and education broadening. Patterson shows how much of the Great Society was oversold, with programs receiving inadequate funding or, more often, incompetent oversight. LBJ's paranoia about communism and his secretive buildup of troops in Vietnam is a dominan [...]

    3. George Siehl

      Patterson's thesis is that 1965 was a pivotal year in American politics, the high water mark of liberal legislation. He copiously documents his argument noting the many pieces of Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" that were enacted that year: Medicare, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Voting rights Act, Immigration Reform, and the creation of the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, among others, Johnson endeavored to "Out-Roosevelt" FDR by passing many new liberal laws, [...]

    4. K Steven

      This book starts out with one big limitation - it's focussed on a single year from a defining yet tumultuous period in American history. Yet that is also the author's premise: that 1965 was a pivotal year. A year the saw the apex of liberal power and influence in politics, as well as the beginning of the unraveling of the post-WWII era of confidence in the American Dream and that America could "do no wrong." The title of the book refers to the eponymous song written by P.F. Sloan and performed b [...]

    5. Sally Ewan

      I decided to read this book because it focused on 1965, the year I was born. What an eye-openener! Many things that I take for granted today were just starting back then, thanks to LBJ's Great Society programs. Just listen to this list of "landmark legislation of 1965: the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Medicare and Medicaid, the Voting Rights Act, immigration reform, the Higher Education Act, the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, and many others." So just within my lifeti [...]

    6. John Kaufmann

      Good solid read, 3.5 to 4 Stars. The premise of the book is that 1965 was the year when Camelot began to shatter and gave way to the turmoil of the late 1960s - 1965 set the forces in motion that led to fracturing of American society that remains with us to this day. The author makes a good case. I was in high school in 1965 and was aware of the events Patterson describes, but I never put it into the context that it was the early tremors of the earthquake that was about to hit. I began to feel t [...]

    7. Margaret Sankey

      Patterson was a 30 year old assistant history professor in 1965, little knowing that he would spend his career working on the times he was about to live through. In this book, he identifies that year as a crucial and tragic turning point, beginning at the high water mark of optimistic liberalism--major Great Society programs, the Voting Rights Act, the Economic Opportunity Act, reform of immigration law and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. But within a year, escalation in Vietnam, the [...]

    8. Craig Werner

      Decent enough survey of the events that make 1965, in Patterson's words, "the hinge of the sixties." The year began with Lyndon Johnson newly elected and pushing hard to enact the most aggressive progressive legislative agenda in American history. It ended in disarray, with the shadows of the Watts riots and steady escalation (with next to new positive results) in Vietnam hanging thick over everything. Patterson, whose Grand Expectations is a solid history of America in the post-World War II, pr [...]

    9. Kevin Hoag

      While the book was informative it was not at all what would have been expected based on the title and description, and as a result was quite disappointing. A more descriptive title might have been "Lyndon Johnson in 1965." There was a great deal going on in the U.S. and the world in 1965, and the author is certainly correct to identify it as an important year. But it was almost entirely a biography of President Johnson in that year. The world and the changes occurring that year did not revolve a [...]

    10. Socraticgadfly

      Solid explainer of why 1965 should be the year that defines the 60s.Patterson notes major changes include:1. Fragmenting of the civil rights movement;2. Many younger civil rights leaders becoming more antiwar focused;3. Watts;4. The Great Society hitting bureaucracy and lack of money by the end of the year5. In music, The Stones' "Satisfaction" marking a new "edge" to rock, now no longer so saccharine. (Related, Patterson notes, is Dylan "plugging in" for the first time.)Two other takeaways:1. L [...]

    11. Liam

      "William Shannon, Washington correspondent for Commonweal, wrote in early April that LBJ was the 'master of the America-is-a-great-wonderful-barbecue school of politics.' Shannon added, 'His programs are designed to evade rather than confront the hard issues. He believe in consensus, not conflict. The barbecue school of politics is not based on any belief in redistributing wealth or disturbing anyone's existing privileges; rather, it presupposes that there is enough meat, and gravy, too, for eve [...]

    12. Dave Hoff

      As 1913 was year before the War, and the Emperors in Europe this book is about what happened in 1965 & Pres. LBJ, Emperor of America. More I read of LBJ, I learn what a rotten man. Quote. When the Chancellor of W. Germany asked him if he had been born in a log cabin, LBJ replied "no, that was Lincoln, I was born in a manager" He had the Great Society and Vietnam going at the same time, both a disaster. While Ike believed in the virtue of decency and respect for law, LBJ gave "the Treatment" [...]

    13. Mike Luoma

      Good survey of a pivotal year. The breadth of the subject brings with it a necessary lack of depth, yet even in broad strokes Patterson conveys a sense of the forces in balance, and falling out of balance, as - politically - the pendulum swung all the way to the liberal side - and then began to swing back. Excellent look at a year, though 50 years gone, that still influences the shape and limits of the modern world.

    14. G.

      I love a good history book and this one was excellent. The Sixties as we know them actually didn't really start up until 1965. This is the story of that year, focusing on Lyndon Johnson, who started the year with a message of hope, and ended it as an embattled proponent of a failing war. This book tries to paint a panoramic view of that year: the seeds that were planted and left for the rest of us to sow. Fascinating.

    15. John

      Maybe it's because I was 18 at the time and have pretty strong memories from 1965, but there's nothing particularly new in this book. To me it's main thesis is that the Vietnam War diminished everything good that was going on at the time (i.e the Great Society and the civil rights movement), but that really isn't news. Also, the writing doesn't flow particularly well, so it's somewhat of a boring read. However, it might be a great read for generations not yet of age in 1965.

    16. Bill Brewer

      1965 the first year after graduating from high school for the front wave of the baby boom generation, those born in 1946. The author, James T. Patterson describes the year as pivotal in American history. It is hard to believe all that happened that year some for the good some for the bad. The Voting Rights Act, the march on Selma, startup of the Viet Nam conflict, the Watts riot, passing of Medicare and Medicaid and many more. This fascinating and easy to read book.

    17. Claudia Shaw

      Loved this book. The history was well researched and the facts easy to digest. I agree that 1965 was that pivotal year. I lived it and enjoyed reading about some of the issues of which I had no knowledge. At the time of Vietnam , the government had its party line, the press theirs, the American populace theirs. It put all my preconceived notions of the truth based on my politics in place

    18. Peter Mcloughlin

      A really good book about one of the most news packed years of the sixties. Patterson makes a good case for 1965 as being the year when everything happened. The great society, Viet Nam, Civil Rights, The Watts Riot,Spacewalks, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Voting Rights act. This year has a laundry list of big events. A good read on a year that really changed things.

    19. Eric

      Terrific book. It's mostly on LBJ and the two biggest stories of that year — the incredible congressional session and the escalation in Vietnam — but it ties in Watts, sports, pop culture and a lot of other watershed moments. Patterson makes a persuasive case that 1965 is one of the most remarkable years in American history

    20. Mary Gail O'Dea

      Good book on 1965 which marked passage of incredible amounts of civil rights and social program legislation, but also was marked by escalation of the Vietnam War. I think Patterson overdoes the central importance of one year of "The Sixties," but the book is a good read and contextualizes the Great Society Johnson wanted as well as his increasing distraction with the Vietnam War.

    21. Doug

      I found very little new information here. The review of the music and culture seems trite, the accomplishments of LBJ and Great Society legislation already overly analyzed. Vietnam we need more written word? What exactly did this book contribute new? Another year named as the year that changed everything.Hope to read that about 2013 in another 50 years

    22. Michael Samerdyke

      This is a splendid history that looks at key turning points in the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement. Patterson has good cultural observations as well. He convinced me that 1965 was when the Sixties became "The Sixties."

    23. Jim Blessing

      This book discussed in great detail all of the major happenings in the year 1965 and how that changed America. Most of LBJ's legislative accomplishments of this year were quite positive, while the escaleration of the Vietnam War was a major mistake.

    24. Marcia Miller

      Survey of the radical changes that rocked America during the mid-1960s. Having lived through it (though without the benefit of political insight), I felt that the book read a bit like an annotated diary of the times. Writing was dryer than I'd hoped.

    25. Carolyn

      If only we could have stuck to the social programs of the Great Society and not gone down the road of Vietnam Patterson does an excellent job of painting the picture of the fast changing times and the true beginning of 'the 60's'

    26. Louis Prontnicki

      Good view of a pivotal year, yet the whole decade was really the turning point.Good picture of our life and culture in the 1950s and early 60s on pp. 8-11.

    27. Robert

      Well worth reading , but it doesn't take the place of Patterson's larger contributions to the Oxford History of the United States.

    28. Doug Buse

      Interesting snapshot of '64-'65 near-simultaneous events. Lots of consequences, intended and unintended. Gulf of Tonkin look familiar??

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