1960s

  William F. Buckley, Jr., and Norman Mailer were the two towering intellectual figures of the 1960s, and they lived remarkably parallel lives. Both became best-selling authors in their twenties; both started hugely influential papers (National Review and the Village Voice); both ran for mayor of New York City; both were noted for their exceptional wit and venom; and both became the figurehead of their respective social movements (Buckley on the right, Mailer on the left).

At the beginning of 1965, the U.S. seemed on the cusp of a golden age. Although Americans had been shocked by the assassination in 1963 of President Kennedy, they exuded a sense of consensus and optimism that showed no signs of abating. Indeed, political liberalism and interracial civil rights activism made it appear as if 1965 would find America more progressive and unified than it had ever been before. In January 1965, President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed that the country had “no irreconcilable conflicts.”

Longtime North Bennington resident, museum curator and author Tom Fels is back telling farm stories, specifically about the Montague Farm. His new book is Buying The Farm: Peace and War on a Sixties Commune.

Fels is following up on the success of his book Farm Friends in which he told the story of the many of personalities of Montague Farm, a commune in western Massachusetts where he spent four years, from 1969 to 1973. His latest offering is a comprehensive history of that same cooperative from its inception to the present day.