Sixty-Six by Barry Levinson

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Welcome to Baltimore, 1966, a quiet Eastern city of row houses, blue-collar neighborhoods, and burgeoning suburbs, a place as yet untouched by the upheavals of 1960's America.

A place where everything is about to change.

What was once so simple now seems complicated. Delicatessens that served delicious slabs of pastrami are now serving sprouts. Song lyrics are angry and raw. Acid is being dropped and the normal life paths—school, marriage, a safe career—seem irrelevant. Or, worse, boring.

Even friendship is more complicated.

As society's shifts begin to take hold, the people at the heart of Sixty-Six know they have something to hold on to: each other . . . Bobby Shine, an intern at the local television station; the soulful and rebellious Neil; Ben Kallin, the "King of the Teenagers"; Turko and Eggy, comic philosophers extraordinaire. They spend their time together hanging out at the Hilltop Diner, wisecracking, coping, falling in and out of love, planning for a glorious future.

As the decade explodes, however, these young people are caught between the staid and traditional values of the fifties, and the confusion, turbulence, and exhilaration of the sixties. As the fighting in Vietnam escalates and the antiwar movement at home reaches fever pitch, their insular world will be rocked by violence and tragedy. As the growing Civil Rights movement sweeps across the country, they will see the best and worst of their parents’ generation. And as the hippie movement rockets across the cultural landscape, they will both embrace and be torn apart by the new freedoms afforded them. Together, they will have to confront as bewildering and wrenching a set of transformations as America has ever faced_—and each one of them will leave 1966 changed forever.

Barry Levinson has moved us with such superb films as Rain Man, Good Morning, Vietnam, The Natural, and, of course, the much-loved Diner. With the same humor, depth of insight, affection for his characters, and glorious dialogue that make his movies so memorable, Levinson has written a first novel of enormous heart, a book that takes us back to a time in our history when everything was at stake and nothing would ever be the same.

About Barry Levinson

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Published September 16, 2003 by Broadway. 288 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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High-school buddies move into the tough world of the late '60s in a weakly plotted debut.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Sixty-Six

Book Reporter

It is primarily valuable --- immensely so --- as a primer to Baltimore in 1966 --- its times, its folkways, its customs.

Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Sixty-Six

AV Club

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In his debut novel Sixty-Six, writer-director Barry Levinson pounds determinedly on the motif of flawed memory, and the gaps that our unhelpfully arbitrary minds insert into our histories.

Sep 22 2003 | Read Full Review of Sixty-Six

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