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Nile Southern and Adam Cooper

Chicago 1968: The Calm Before the Storm

Chicago 1968: The Calm Before the Storm

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In the late summer of 1968, writers Terry Southern, William S. Burroughs, and Jean Genet were deployed by Esquire magazine to cover the Democratic Convention in Chicago. With photographer Michael Cooper and poet Allen Ginsberg inseparable parts of their coterie, the “fab 5” (as Michael Simmons dubbed them) were unflappable, capturing the calm and riding out the storm. These were turbulent times, as growing opposition to the Vietnam War inspired the Yippies to organize one of the biggest youth demonstrations of all time. Pot-smoking peaceniks descended upon Chicago from all over the country to protest the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the anticipated coronation of the Establishment candidate, Hubert Humphrey. Chicago was a Republican stronghold, and Mayor Richard J. Daley wanted to present a peaceful “law and order” city that wouldn’t tolerate any “outside agitators” or “unpatriotic” long-hairs.

No one could have foreseen the unprecedented mobilization of tens of thousands of young people from all over the country, and the lengths to which Mayor Daley went to shut them down. Michael Cooper and Terry Southern, no strangers to absurdity and highly attuned to the strengths and aspirations of youth culture, witnessed the deployment of the national guard, a belligerent police force “run amuck” and rioting, and the outrageous aggression unleashed on the protesters on the streets of Chicago—harkening to the hugely funded militarization of police forces today, and the continual need for their reform.

Chicago 1968: The Calm Before the Storm captures Michael Cooper’s celebration of his writer-friends and the protests in which they were playing a part—¬moments before the chaos and terror that became Chicago ’68. Accompanied by one of the great new journalism pieces by Southern, we have, with Cooper’s photos, an intimate and wry, world-weary account of a pivotal cultural moment whose city-sponsored violence has echoed throughout history and offers us a cautionary reminder for today. Chicago 1968 recalls the events of three fateful days in late August that must never be forgotten.

Why we love this book...

Chicago ‘68: The Calm Before the Storm documents the visual poetry, both in photos and written text, that is the Yippie Movement. We chose to publish this due to the timely nature of events mentioned in the book, as history often unfortunately repeats itself. Police brutality continues in prevalence, just as it did during the protests of 1968 at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. This piece of visual history includes never before seen photographs of the emotion, power, and intensity demonstrated during this time, and we are proud to publish this book at Genius Book Publishing, Inc. 

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