The Portable Sixties Reader share button
Ann Charters
Format Paperback
Dimensions 5.20 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 1.16 (d)
Pages 672
Publisher Penguin Group (USA)
Publication Date December 2002
ISBN 9780142001943
Book ISBN 10 0142001945
About Book

From civil rights to free love, JFK to LSD, Woodstock to the Moonwalk, the Sixties was a time of change, political unrest, and radical experiments in the arts, sexuality, and personal identity. In this anthology of more than one hundred selections of essays, poetry, and fiction by some of America’s most gifted writers, Ann Charters sketches the unfolding of this most turbulent decade.

The Portable Sixties Reader is organized into thematic chapters, from the Civil Rights movement to the Anti-Vietnam movement, the Free Speech movement, the Counterculture movement, drugs and the movement into Inner Space, the Beats and other fringe literary movements, the Black Arts movement, the Women’s movement, and the Environmental movement. The concluding chapter, “Elegies for the Sixties,” offers tributes to ten figures whose lives—and deaths—captured the spirit of the decade.

Contributors include:

Edward Abbey, Sherman Alexie, James Baldwin, Richard Brautigan, Lenny Bruce, Charles Bukowski, William Burroughs, Jim Carroll, Rachel Carson, Carlos Castenada, Bob Dylan, Betty Friedan, Nikki Giovanni, Michael Herr, Abbie Hoffman, Robert Hunter, Ken Kesey, Martin Luther King, Jr., Timothy Leary, Denise Levertov, Norman Mailer, Malcolm X, Country Joe McDonald, Kate Millet, Tim O’Brien, Sylvia Plath, Susan Sontag, Gloria Steinem, Hunter S. Thompson, Calvin Trillin, Alice Walker, Eudora Welty and more.


San Francisco Chronicle

A compulsively readable collection.

Seattle Times

Absorbing...a collection to be read...seething with emotion and urgency...

Kirkus Reviews

Kerouac biographer and veteran anthologist Charters (The Portable Beat Reader, not reviewed, etc.) successfully conveys the atmosphere of the 1960s for those who lived through it, and those who did not. The four-page preface clearly explains her choices. Charters, who came of age during the 1960s, concedes that some of the pieces are very personal, meant to reflect her intense emotional and intellectual experiences. The selections and omissions are determined to some extent by the ten topical sections: civil rights, war resistance, free speech, the counterculture (largely in music as rendered here), mind-altering drugs, Beat literature, African-American arts, the women's movement (especially the sexual revolution), environmental protection, and "elegies" (portraits of ten people who died during the decade). Charters (English/Univ. of Connecticut) gives short shrift to innovative pieces of narrative journalism--Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, Joan Didion, Truman Capote are all excluded--but otherwise her choices seem unarguable. The introductions to each selection provide pertinent context, which is especially important because many of the selections are excerpts from books. A 25-page chronology of the decade will prove useful for those born after 1960, as well as offering forgotten tidbits for middle-aged and elderly readers.