What Was Woodstock?
Written by Joan Holub
Illustrated by Gregory Copeland
This book is part of the Who, What, Where series of books written largely for the beginning reader and pre-teen audience. Woodstock is one of the most famous events in the 1960’s, one of the most tumultuous decades in American history. Not only does this book portray in words, drawings and photos, the Woodstock music festival, but it furnishes a birds-eye view of the history of the 1960’s. Well-written concise profiles of the Vietnam War, political and social change, and sixties slang are included. There are timelines of the sixties for the United States as well as one of events happening around the globe. An age appropriate bibliography for additional reading on these topics is also included.
Music promoter, Michael Lang conceived the concert idea. Desiring to open up a recording studio for young artists in Woodstock, about 120 miles north of New York City, he convinced Artie Kornfield of Capitol Records that this was a good idea. While playing a game of pool one night, they decided to raise money for their project by having a giant outdoor music concert. They needed a large space, security, lighting, outdoor toilets, food, water, a stage and lots of music bands. Problem after problem arose. Their plans fell through and the location was changed three times. Eventually, they contracted with a local farmer, Max Yasgur in Bethel, NY. They planned for 50,000 people, but 500,000 came. The roads were so clogged that people had to walk ten miles from their cars, and bands had to be flown in by helicopter. A thunderstorm threatened to destroy it, but the three-day event in August, 1969 became a message of peace and hope for people young and old. Well-known artists like Jimi Hendrix and Joan Baez played as well as then unknowns like Santana and Credence Clearwater Revival. The organizers made no money. Despite its success, organizers wound up letting everyone in free because they could not manage to collect tickets.
Young pre-teen readers will love this book. History, music and popular culture are woven together into a mesmerizing look at sixties people, places and things. Readers absorb a great deal of knowledge without even realizing it. Highly recommended for students, teachers, parents and all those baby boomers who lived through or have heard about Woodstock.