Book Reviews

Book Review No. 22 – ABLAZE: Ten Years That Shook The World, by Peter Rowe

“1965—1975 created a crazy steaming jambalaya of action and change.”

“1965—1975 created a crazy steaming jambalaya of action and change.”


ABLAZE book image with painting


Peter Rowe is at it again, extrapolating segments of ‘relatable’ history from the not-too-distant-past, and presenting them in bite-sized nuggets of colourful detail that those of us of a ‘certain age’ can relate to and reminisce about in a ‘those were the days my friend” kind of way.

Rowe’s previous book, Music vs The Man, entertained music lovers with its comprehensive anthology of the ‘what really happened’ behind some of the most famous events in musical history between musicians and ‘the man.’

Read Cece’s earlier chat with Peter Rowe here:  Volume III Peter Rowe (

ABLAZE: Ten Years That Shook The World continues Rowe’s deep dive into snapshots of time that resonate with their WOW factor, their history-making importance, and their cultural impact —in this case, the global events that happened during the period between 1965 and 1975.

These ten years were illustrious in their quirky and ‘culture-defining personalities’—think Timothy Leary, who made “Turn on, tune in, drop out” a popular catch phrase;  the infamous story of the ‘lady of the night’ Fanny Hill; a young Bob Dylan, who stated in the late ‘70s that “I guess the ‘50s ended in about ’65”; the scion of the Fonda family, sex symbol anti-Vietnam activist, Jane Fonda; and Carlos the Jackal, whose life story inspired the 1971 novel, Carlos the Jackal, by Frederick Forsythe, (Fred Zinnemann made a movie about the ‘Jackal’ in 1973), to name but a mere few.

Political uprisings, cultural revolutions, the start of fringe ‘terrorist’ groups, and several ‘shots heard around the world’ assassinations tragically occurred during these years.

Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Che Guevara —the revolutionary who helped bring Fidel Castro to power—were all assassinated in this decade.

Che Guevara AblazePeter Rowe has painted pop-art portraits of many of the characters profiled in ABLAZE.

Interestingly, Fidel, who was considered a tyrant during his 50 year reign—certainly he was no friend of the powers that be within the U. S. political landscape— was the target of 638 assassination attempts by the CIA during his time in power.

For those of you who were hippies, (and still are…can I get a far out dude?), you will be happy to note that the hippie movement is colorfully captured in what is probably the longest chapter in the book. And rightly so! Let’s face it:

   “If you remember the ’60s, you really weren’t there.”

The decade Rowe has chosen to detail in his latest book is full of truly interesting, with a capital I, rich detail.

Remember Patty Hearst?

I mean who can ever forget the saga of 19-year-old-rich-girl Patty Hearst’s journey from newspaper magnate heiress, to kidnap victim, to SLA Revolutionary, to bank robber? Patricia, who adopted the name Tania during her time with the SLA, was finally captured and arrested  after living for 18 months on the lam.

This decade also saw the birth of the kind of seismic movements that completely reshaped and redefined history. The women’s movement, Gay Pride, the championing of the environmental movement, the Anti-War movement, Greenpeace: their beginnings were all ignited in this decade.

The cult movie, Easy Rider, (starring Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda), also developed a magnificent ‘groovy’ following; American author, Helen Gurley Brown, shocked the parlour folks with her radical new version of Cosmopolitan Magazine; the Beatles imploded; and the Rolling Stones recorded their epic tune, Sympathy for the Devil.  Need I say more?

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