The Atlantic

This Week 50 Years Ago: An Eclectic News Digest

Riots on the Sunset Strip, firefighters in asbestos suits, economic change in apartheid South Africa, a standoff with a territorial woodchopper, and more
Source: Bettmann / Getty

Fifty years ago this week, Viet Cong guerrillas charged a U.S. base on New Year’s Day, killing at least 26 soldiers; Americans learned that a total of 9,353 Americans had been killed in the Vietnam War during the previous year; and Lyndon Johnson discouraged Americans from travel outside the Western Hemisphere. In lighter news, Hot Wheels were introduced and John Singleton was born.

Those are the most notable events as we perceive them now, from our 2018 perspective. But what’s been forgotten that informed observers of that earlier era found important?

One way to find out is to read through archival material from daily newspapers. This year, as The Atlantic looks back at 1968, one recurring feature will be a digest of various news stories that people were thinking about in a given bygone week, an exercise that never fails to give even a long-ago period texture.

Here are selections from the first week of January 1968 with the original headlines:

New Year’s Celebrations End in Sunset Strip Rioting

Police reported from 1,000 to 1,500 youths threw stones and bottles at passing cars, smashed windows and headlights and started gasoline fires along the

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