Counter Culture Writer Theodore Roszak Dies at 77

Theodore Roszak, the man who coined the term “counterculture” and wrote prodigiously on the topic, died last week of cancer in his Berkeley home. He was 77. Roszak was the author of the 1969 bestseller The Making of a Counter Culture, about hippy-era subcultures in the Bay Area.

From the LA Times obit:

Where some saw a chaos of protesting college radicals, hippie communards, Deadheads and drug pushers, Roszak saw a serious movement with possibly redeeming value, a youthful opposition to the “technocracy” that he said was at the root of problems such as war, poverty, racial disharmony and environmental degradation.

“This was a time when there was this immense cultural upheaval in the country. But what was this? Was it just a lot of freakish behavior? Was this … an unintended consequence of the Vietnam War? There was no conceptual handle on it,” Todd Gitlin, a Columbia University professor who wrote a popular history of the 1960s, said in an interview Tuesday. “People were trying to figure out, ‘What is this thing that has come upon us?’ He named it. That’s why the book was a bestseller.”

Roszak grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from UCLA in 1955. He authored or edited more than 17 books throughout his career.