Hippie by Barry Miles

Hippie by Barry Miles

Barry, Miles. Hippie. Union Square, 2005. ISBN 978-1402728730 384 pp. $

Is this a history of the 1960’s, a musical biography, or both? Can you really talk about one without the other? Apparently not. Hippie is a broad biography of an era that examines the clothes, the art, the politics, the bands, and the generation that tuned in, dropped out and changed the world in 1965-1971. Covering not just entertainment, Hippie is also a history of issues: women’s rights, civil rights, gay rights, and the right to gather peaceably.

Interviews with Ken Kesey, Abbie Hoffman and Bob Dylan paired with photos of ephemera yield primary source material about the counterculture of the times. The number one fact that sticks with me after reading it is that Dylan turned the Beatles onto hard drugs.

Although Woodstock is prominently featured, the book has a California-centric focus. It’s not big enough or colorful enough to be called a coffee-table book, about half of the 600 illustrations are in black and white. More for browsing, there are no page numbers, making this a difficult title for reports, although one could read the volume straight through or skim. Might make a nice gift for someone who lived through it but doesn’t remember it.

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