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Ted Widmer reviews Mark Kurlansky’s new book, 1968, an overview of the year in politics, and an argument for why that specific year was so important.

If memory is closely related to self-definition, then it’s easy to understand why the year 1968 is still with us. Certain years stand out for world-shaping events (2001; 1963), and others, more rare, for a feeling that our DNA itself is changing, and an alternative universe of human possibility is coming into view, if only for a brief, tantalizing moment. 1848 was such a year, and 1968 had the same electric quality. “Be realistic; demand the impossible,” read a poster in Paris. In countries that barely had official relations