Poor Francis Wheen. He was undoubtedly given an impossible brief. Compiling a book to accompany a television series is rarely an exercise designed to stimulate creative thinking. When the series in question is fundamentally flawed the result is, unsurprisingly, mediocre. The Sixties looks and reads like a giant colour supplement, though mercifully without the ads. Pearce Marchbank’s design is pleasing; the photographs are well chosen; there is an over-concentration on the form rather than the content. It is not that Wheen has not done his homework. The problem lies in the TV series rather than in the book.
The basic structural defect of the programme and the book lies in its conceptualisation of the Sixties. The politico-cultural radicalism that exploded in 1968 and culminated in 1974 was neither a thunderbolt from a clear blue sky nor a series of events restricted to Britain. The most remarkable feature of