A highly readable and important work that brings young Canadians who were in the workforce – rather than attending university – into the conversation about what the social and cultural upheavals of the 1960s were all about. (James Pitsula, author of New World Dawning: The Sixties at Regina Campus)
...Milligan’s study is a welcome addition to the growing literature on the long sixties, which highlights the diversity and complexity of the era that has heretofore escaped popular memories of it. (Kevin Brushett, Royal Military College of Canada British Journal of Canadian Studies, Vol. 29 No. 2, Fall 2016)
During the “long sixties” – between 1964 and 1973 – baby boomers raised on democratic postwar ideals demanded a more egalitarian society for all. While a few became vocal leaders at universities across Canada, nearly 90% of Canada’s young people went straight to work after high school. There, they brought the anti-authoritarian spirit of the youth revolt to the labour movement.
While university-based activists combined youth culture with a new brand of radicalism to form the New Left, young workers were pressing for wildcat strikes and defying their aging union leaders in a wave of renewed militancy that swept the country. In Rebel Youth, Ian Milligan looks at these converging currents, demonstrating convincingly how they were part of a single youth phenomenon. With just short of seventy interviews complementing the extensive use of archival records, this book reveals a youth current that, despite regional differences, spanned an intellectual network from Halifax to Victoria that read the same publications, consulted the same thinkers, and found inspiration in the same shared ideas.
Rebel Youth draws important connections between the stories of young workers and the youth movement in Canada, claiming a central place for labour and class in the legacy of this formative decade.
By bringing the story of working-class activism into the history of the sixties, Milligan adds a crucially important dimension to the study of the period. A must-read for anyone interested in the 1960s in particular, or Canadian history more generally. (Sean Mills, author of The Empire Within: Postcolonial Thought and Political Activism in Sixties Montreal)
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