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Grace Elizabeth Hale New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
What did the actor James Dean have to do with the Baptist founder of the Moral Majority Terry Falwell? In her artfully rendered study, Grace Elizabeth Hale portrays a connection brimming with cultural significance. Her new book, A Nation of Outsiders, opens with two questions. Why, in the second half of the twentieth century, did so many white, middle-class Americans, the majority of them youth, liken themselves to "outsiders"? And, second, what were the effects of this identification on American culture and society? In her hunt for answers, Hale could have stuck with the stock figures of mid-century rebellion--the Deans and the Presleys. But instead she widened the orbit, encompassing a range of characters, not only Dean and Hal well, Jack Kerouac and Norman Mailer, but also the neo-conservative William F. Buckley and the folk singers Joan Baez, Pete Seeder, Bob Dylan, and Woody Guthrie, as well as Vietnam protestors, readers of Students for a Democratic Society and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Jesus People, Hippies, Yippies, and radical New Right activists. The lineup is impressive, as is the choreography. The author casts fresh light on the storied New Left and Sixties student movement. She illuminates as …