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Set the dial to 1968

December 09, 2007|Robert Lloyd

Millennial, tumultuous, divisive, deadly, exhilarating and exhausting, 1968 unfolded with a force, viciousness and sense of immanence incredible in these days of irony and inertia, when the upraised fist has been replaced by the desultory shrug, and the end of the world is taken as pretty much a fait accompli.

Tom Brokaw, who has followed his book on "The Greatest Generation" with "Boom! Voices of the Sixties: Personal Reflections on the '60s and Today," shows up tonight on the History Channel hosting a kind of partial adaptation, "1968 With Tom Brokaw." The title is apt: Brokaw -- whom we see standing on the fabled corner of Haight and Ashbury then and now -- is a witness as well as a host.

A veritable K-Tel collection of period hits ushers the year on its bumpy way from the Tet Offensive to Apollo 8, via assassinations, riots, a rapidly escalating foreign war, women's liberation, the arming of the civil rights and antiwar movements, and a presidential race that was in constant, surprising play.

Recollections and commentary are provided by the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Tommy Smothers, Jon Stewart, Pat Buchanan, Andrew Young (an eyewitness to the murder of Martin Luther King Jr.) and Brokaw's KNBC colleague Rafer Johnson (who was there when Robert Kennedy was shot), student leader Marc Rudd and George Wallace campaign director Tom Turnipseed, now a civil rights advocate.

And 1969 was just around the corner.

(History Channel, today, 9 p.m.)

-- Robert Lloyd

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