Three recently published books on the dramatic events of 1968 in Europe, North America, and elsewhere provide a useful opportunity to look back at that year and ask what caused such passions. Violent protesters in the democratic West claimed to be acting on behalf of a wider cause, but most of them paid little heed to those in Czechoslovakia and Poland who were seeking to ease the oppressiveness of Communist rule. Newly available archival sources and the passage of more than four decades facilitate a reexamination of that momentous year, but many aspects of the events remain nearly as inscrutable today as they were at the time.

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