Book's meaning lost in its words

"Imagine Nation," a book edited by Peter Braunstein and Ball State history professor Michael William Doyle, takes a long, hard look at the nation's counterculture in the 1960s and 1970s, but it is a book students can live without reading.

First off, the book is very well organized for being a mass collection of 14 essays by various authors from different backgrounds and universities, but it contains so much technical jargon and intense vocabulary words that a student would spend more time reading the dictionary than the intended text. The introduction alone was a frustrating challenge because of the vocabulary used in it, and the rest of the book followed in suit, giving it a good consistency and style, but also making it a difficult read in general.

Another problem is how most of the essays are written. They contain very long paragraphs, some even taking up an entire page, which makes it difficult for the reader to stay interested or keep the motivation he or she needs to read such a densely written book.

"Imagine Nation" contains a lot of historical information, probably too much for someone to absorb after the first reading, which means a student would have to go back and reread sections to get everything the author expects his or her reader to get out of the essays. That can make life difficult for students who already have too much class-related work to do and don't have time for pleasure reading.

This is a book that cannot be read quickly. It contains complexities, tons of names, dates and abbreviations for all of the organizations mentioned, so large amounts of time need to be put in to get out all of the information pumped into this book, time that most students might not have.

Despite its complexity, "Imagine Nation" takes the reader into a world of sex, drugs, rock n' roll and headbands, and does so with a well-articulated and historically accurate point of view.

Topics of discussion include several viewpoints and ideas of the '60s and '70s. It covers topics from LSD experiments to issues of Native American influence on the human identity, to race issues involving organizations such as the Black Panthers, and it even talks about issues of music and what was culturally acceptable at the time.

And these topics are not just skimmed over by the writers. They are covered in depth, walking the reader through the '60s and '70s from the perspective of the group talked about or the topic at hand, and this is done very well.

But even with these positive attributes, it is clearly not meant for a college audience, at least not one who isn't studying '60s counterculture. It might even be safe to say this book isn't for undergraduate college students at all, but more for graduate students and beyond.

With these points in mind, making a choice to read again or pass up "Imagine Nation" would be very simple for me.

Thanks, but no thanks.


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