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
Beneath the psychedelic utopianism of the sixties lay a dark seam of apocalyptic thinking that seemed to rupture into violence and despair by 1969.
Literary and cultural historian James Riley descends into this underworld and traces the historical and conspiratorial threads connecting art, film, poetry, politics, murder and revolt. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the Manson Family and Roman Polanski, ley-line hunters and Illuminati believers, Aldous Huxley, Joan Didion and the Beat poets, radical protest movements and occult groups all come together in Riley’s gripping narrative.
Steeped in the hopes, dreams and anxieties of the late 1960s and early ’70s, The Bad Trip tells the strange stories of some of the period’s most compelling figures as they approached the end of an era and imagined new worlds ahead.
‘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 fascinating look at one of the most intoxicating eras of pop – when flower power blossomed and then wilted as it gave way to its darker side.’
‘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’
‘Suffice to say this is one timely and captivating tome … Impressively in-depth, wide-reaching and thought-provoking. *****’
‘Refreshingly deep and provocatively different […] reinstalling the vanishing art of good writing’