The Bad Trip (Paperback)
Dark Omens, New Worlds and the End of the Sixties
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‘A history that makes perfect sense when the sky is falling down.’ – The Sunday Times
The Sixties, for many, was a time of new ideas, freedom, and renewed hope – from the civil rights movement to Woodstock. But towards the end of 1969 and the start of the 1970s, everything seemed to implode. The Manson murders, the tragic events of the Rolling Stones concert at Altamont and the appearance of the Zodiac Killer all called a halt to the progress of a glorious decade. At the end of the Sixties, the hippie dream died – or so the story goes.
In The Bad Trip, James Riley descends into the underworld of the Sixties to reveal the dark side of the counterculture. He explores the seam of apocalyptic thinking that had lain hidden beneath the decade’s psychedelic utopianism all along. Moving between Britain and America, this is a magical mystery tour that shows just how different our concept of ‘the Sixties’ is from the reality of the period.
A brilliant and trenchant cultural history published 50 years after the action – drawing on interviews with key figures from the music, art, and film scenes of the late 1960s and early 1970s in the US and UK.
‘Dense with conspiracies, chaos and apocalyptic death drives, The Bad Trip is a history that makes perfect sense when the sky is falling down.’
‘A meticulously researched look at how the hippies’ rejection of rules opened the doors to drug abuse, occultism and some very dark deeds.’
‘The Bad Trip is a good trip: an essay on the power of art in dark times. In our own dark times, half a century later, that’s something worth reading.’
‘Brilliant … a total trip”
‘A useful guidebook to the self-regarding Sixties counterculture’
‘A fresh take on an altogether over-discussed, if rarely very carefully analysed, era. His chapter The Omega Men is particularly good at steering a path through cinema and publications that predicted a bleak future, or suggested how that might be averted.’
‘Essential reading for enthusiasts of 1960s transatlantic counter-culture, written with verve and brio. Riley is an expert tour guide’
‘A dazzling account of the decline and fall of the 60s dream, forging links between US and UK countercultural practices.’
‘While the depth of knowledge is impressive … it’s the joining of the (micro) dots linking occult energies to these events which will keep 60s obsessives up at night’
‘Refreshingly deep and provocatively different […] reinstalling the vanishing art of good writing’