The Rise and Fall of the American Counterculture: A History of the Hippies and Other Cultural Dissidents
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The Rise and Fall of the American Counterculture examines the cultural dissidents and cultural revolutionaries of the 1960s era: the hippies. It fills a major void in the historical literature. Most scholars have focused on one aspect of the counterculture, examined it in a couple of locations, or relegated it to a single chapter. Moreover, scholarly narratives have been nearly identical, repeating the same themes and events, while presenting similar explanations for hippiedom’s origins and decline. Many historians utilize secondary sources and rely heavily on Theodore Roszak’s pioneering work. This study is different—it is the first comprehensive history of the hippies and other cultural dissenters, documenting the counterculture throughout the United States from its antecedents in the 1950s, to its origins in the early 1960s, to its emergence in the mid 1960s, to its blooming in the late 1960s, to its decline in the 1970s. Moreover, this study is based on documents seldom examined by historians, the underground newspapers, interviews, flyers, and pamphlets produced by counterculturalists. These sources provide crucial insights into the hippie philosophy and illuminate the forces that caused the counterculture’s materialization and decline. The Rise and Fall of the American Counterculture contends that hippiedom’s development occurred in four stages: its antecedents and origins from 1945 to 1965; its nascent period in 1965 and 1966; its flowering from 1967 to 1970; and its zenith and waning from 1970 through 1973. Cold War America—the institutions, culture, and government—alienated the youths who eventually became hippies. The counterculture’s constitution underwent fundamental transformations. When it emerged, it consisted entirely of cultural dissidents. By the late 1960s, however, New Leftists, who had earlier differed from hippies in philosophy and appearance, began to embrace dope, long hair, liberated sexuality, and countercultural clothing. A partial blending of the New Left and counterculture occurred; hip politicos, hippie activists, and hybrid counterculturalists—those who expressly combined political and cultural radicalism—became indistinguishable. Despite overlapping and blending, however, the counterculture and New Left remained distinct entities. From 1970 through 1973, the counterculture expanded to include most New Leftists, becoming a united, inclusive, dissident youth culture and countersociety of millions.
Bach, Damon (2013). The Rise and Fall of the American Counterculture: A History of the Hippies and Other Cultural Dissidents. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from