Something Happened: A Political and Cultural Overview of the Seventies

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Columbia University Press, 2006 - History - 283 pages
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In both the literal and metaphorical senses, it seemed as if 1970s America was running out of gas. The decade not only witnessed long lines at gas stations but a citizenry that had grown weary and disillusioned. High unemployment, runaway inflation, and the energy crisis, caused in part by U.S. dependence on Arab oil, characterized an increasingly bleak economic situation.

As Edward D. Berkowitz demonstrates, the end of the postwar economic boom, Watergate, and defeat in Vietnam led to an unraveling of the national consensus. During the decade, ideas about the United States, how it should be governed, and how its economy should be managed changed dramatically. Berkowitz argues that the postwar faith in sweeping social programs and a global U.S. mission was replaced by a more skeptical attitude about government's ability to positively affect society.

From Woody Allen to Watergate, from the decline of the steel industry to the rise of Bill Gates, and from Saturday Night Fever to the Sunday morning fervor of evangelical preachers, Berkowitz captures the history, tone, and spirit of the seventies. He explores the decade's major political events and movements, including the rise and fall of détente, congressional reform, changes in healthcare policies, and the hostage crisis in Iran. The seventies also gave birth to several social movements and the "rights revolution," in which women, gays and lesbians, and people with disabilities all successfully fought for greater legal and social recognition. At the same time, reaction to these social movements as well as the issue of abortion introduced a new facet into American political life-the rise of powerful, politically conservative religious organizations and activists.

Berkowitz also considers important shifts in American popular culture, recounting the creative renaissance in American film as well as the birth of the Hollywood blockbuster. He discusses how television programs such as All in the Family and Charlie's Angels offered Americans both a reflection of and an escape from the problems gripping the country.

  

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Something happened: a political and cultural overview of the seventies

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

The 1970s used to be considered either the decade when "nothing happened" or the inward-looking "Me Decade." Of course, a lot did happen during the 1970s, as such recent books as Stephanie A. Slocum ... Read full review

Review: Something Happened: A Political and Cultural Overview of the Seventies

User Review  - Mitch - Goodreads

Bruce Schulman, the best and brightest of 70s scholars, gave it a good quote and it IS about the 70s. Enjoying it thus far but miss the design orientation of Thomas Hine. Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
Nixon Watergate and Presidential Scandal
12
Vietnam and Its Consequences
32
The Economic Downturn and Social Change
53
The Frustrations of Gerald Ford
71
Congress and Domestic Policy in the Age of Gerald Ford
84
The Me Decade and the Turn to the Right
158
Television and the Reassurance of the Familiar
198
Notes
235
Selected Bibliography
259
Acknowledgments
265
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Edward D. berkowitz is professor of history and public policy and public administration at George Washington University. He is the author of eight books and the editor of three collections. During the seventies he served as a staff member of the President's Commission for a National Agenda, helping President Carter plan for a second term that never came to be.

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