As a nation, the United States has always prided itself on being open to change and innovation: America is always in the business of becoming new. This is, after all, a country founded upon constant waves of migration from overseas, and of vast internal movements into new lands. Every American generation probably thinks it is passing through the most tumultuous and far-reaching changes in the nation’s history. In the late twentieth century, however – especially during the turbulent 1960s – Americans had excellent reasons to believe that they really did live in a revolutionary era, as their society was transformed in its most basic assumptions about gender and age, race and ethnicity. Looking at this era, it is tempting to focus entirely on the domestic social and cultural changes, and their importance is beyond debate. But we must never forget the constant external threats to which the nation was subjected.
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