The 1960s was a decade of sexual revolution and dramatic political change, full of cultural celebrities, social scandals, and literary epiphanies. Whether you’ve just finished a Mad Med binge or are looking to be inspired by the energy of the era, here are seven iconic books that pushed the boundaries of society, media, and politics in ways none had ever done before.
Don wasn’t the only one to read this 1969 bestseller. Considered by many to be Roth’s masterpiece, the book caused a stir when it was first published for its graphic depictions of male promiscuity, masturbation, and flippant portrayal of Jewish identity.
As the iconic editor of Cosmopolitan magazine for 32 years, Brown ushered in a whole new way of thinking about work, men, and sex with her first book that jumpstarted a cultural phenomenon.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Malcolm X
Muslim minister, human-rights activist, and anti-integrationist, Malcolm X told his life story and philosophy in this 1965 bestseller. Written in collaboration with journalist Alex Haley, it offered an essential perspective on the limits of the American dream – and outlined the African-American struggle for equality in the United States.
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, by Tom Wolfe
Roger Sterling was the only Mad Man who experimented with LSD in the 1960s. But the drug pervaded the decade’s party culture, as attested to in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. The book – considered one of the most iconic histories of the hippy movement – follows novelist Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters as they administer “acid tests” a.k.a. communal tripping parties.
Superstar, by Viva
During the ‘60s, Andy Warhol’s enigmatic Factory was the place to be – and Superstar was a fictionalized account of life behind the Factory doors, written by one of the most famous of Warhol’s protégés. Though the names were all changed, the real stars of Warhol’s factory were still scandalously recognizable.
Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin
Levin’s tale of a woman who unknowingly gives birth to the antichrist was not only the bestselling horror novel of the decade – it was also adapted by Roman Polanski into one of the most terrifying and enduring classics of American horror cinema. It then went on to inspire other books and films, such as The Exorcist and The Omen.
The Go-Go Years, by John Brooks
During the 1960s, the United States experienced the longest period of uninterrupted economic expansion in history. In The Go-Go Years, Brooks blends humor and astute analysis to illustrate the rapid growth and even faster decline of the 1960s stock market – and the huge losses of its big-betting players.