top of page

Chapter 7 - Summer of '69

It occurred to me recently (as I was listening to Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties) that I have read a lot of books about the sixties recently. I don't know if that is a nod to nostalgia or maybe just trying to make sense of a time period I grew up in and was somewhat oblivious to.

Anyway, the sixties were clearly a crazy time. Youth rebellion, the Vietnam War, rampant drugs, extreme racial unrest, political assassinations, space exploration, and people just trying to understand it all.

Here are the books I've been reading lately that have the sixties as their own character!

Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand - While she has written a lot of books this was the first I had ever read by Hilderbrand. The story takes place on Nantucket where the Levin family goes to vacation each year. The turmoil in the times is reflected in the family members - Tiger has just been drafted and is in Vietnam, Kirby is working on Martha's Vineyard and has fallen in love with an unsuitable suitor, and Jessie is a 13 year old who is stuck on island with her old-fashioned grandmother. Family secrets and dynamics as well as the events of 1969 keep this book moving.

Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties by Tom O'Neill - If you think that you know all there is to know about the Tate-LaBianca murders, think again. This well-researched book blows Vincent Bugliosi's Helter Skelter out of the water with information about withheld interviews, witness tampering, and even Manson's possible connection to the government. This is an extremely credible and informative book.

Janis: Her Life and Music by Holly George-Warren - A book about sex, drugs, and rock and rock, George-Warren brings Janis Joplin back to life in this biography. Janis's legacy is that of a rebel but this book tells the story of how she fought and worked to make her music as perfect as she could. After reading the book I felt that I knew Janis the person instead of Janis, the icon.

Park Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen - So many things happened in the 60's and this novelized account of Helen Gurley Brown's revamping of Cosmopolitan magazine is certainly one of them. In 1965, Cosmopolitan, a family magazine, was on its last legs and was to be discontinued by Hearst Publications. Helen Gurley Brown had just published her book, Sex and the Single Girl and was hired to revamp Cosmo. This is the story of how she did just that even with all the problems she encountered along the way.

The Nix by Nathan Hill - Abandoned by his mother as a child, stalled writer Samuel Andresen-Anderson sees his mother on the news throwing rocks at a presidential candidate. He decides his next book will be a biography of his mother, the activist. As Samuel finds out more the book moves from the 1960's Midwest to 1968 Chicago and more. At times funny and heartbreaking, this book is a wonderful time capsule of a woman's life.

Are there any books about the 1960's that you've enjoyed? Let me know!

bottom of page