The Beats: A Very Short Introduction offers an overview of the social, cultural, and aesthetic sensibilities of the Beats, bringing out the similarities that connected them, and also the many differences. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Beat Generation writers revolutionized American literature with their iconoclastic approach to language and their angry assault on the conformity and conservatism of postwar society. They and their followers took aim at the hypocrisy and taboos of their time. Members of the Beat Generation hoped to inspire others to purify their lives and souls, yet they urged the remaking of consciousness on a profoundly inward-looking basis. The idea was to revolutionize society by revolutionizing thought, not the other way around.