TABLE OF CONTENTS

AMERICAN MYTHS

the Summer of '69

“THERE WAS A MELANCHOLY to the end of a century,” Norman Mailer sighed in his paean to the space race, Of a Fire on the Moon. “The French, who were the first to specify a state for every emotion, would speak of the fin de siècle. It was the only name to give his own mood, for Aquarius [as Mailer was calling himself] was in a depression which would not lift for the rest of the summer, a curious depression full of fevers, forebodings, and a general sense that the century was done—it had ended in the summer of 1969.” Yes, with a portrait of Aquarius on the cover of Life magazine.

For those going through the changes that made the ’60s so heady, the decade might well have felt like a century. At any rate, the first summer of Richard Nixon’s presidency—this is that summer’s 25th anniversary—was to be the acme of a particular kozmic consciousness. It was predictable, perhaps, that a million pilgrims

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