Editor's Choice

Editor's Choice

January 19, 2003|By Michael Pakenham

The Hippie Dictionary: A Cultural Encyclopedia of the 1960s and 1970s, by John Bassett McCleary (Ten Speed Press, 720 pages, $19.95)

For a book that on first and last glance is simply a rollicking lot of fun, this is an extraordinarily thorough and scholarly piece of work. The core of the book is the encyclopedia itself -- definitions and explanations, ranging from "acid funk: an LSD-induced depression," to half a page defining "true hippie," beginning thus: "a person who lives by the Golden Rule." A lot of the vocabulary has lived on as integral to modern English, but there are marvelous tracings of origins that will surprise almost anyone. This is followed by 16 lists of such memorabilia as "Civil rights events, demonstrations, legislation, groups, leaders, heroes and martyrs." About a third of the citations seem directly or indirectly related to some form or practice of sex. But, then, what was most memorable about grooving on the sweet counterculture?

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