Something Happened: A Political and Cultural Overview of the Seventies / Edition 1by Edward D. Berkowitz
Pub. Date: 12/21/2005
Publisher: Columbia University Press
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
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. Durgaing 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.
Table of Contents
Nixon, Watergate, and Presidential Scandal 12
Vietnam and Its Consequences 32
Running Out of Gas: The Economic Downturn and Social Change 53
The Frustrations of Gerald Ford 71
Congress and Domestic Policy in the Age of Gerald Ford 84
Jimmy Carter and the Great American Revival 104
The Rights Revolution 133
The Me Decade and the Turn to the Right 158
The Movies as Cultural Mirror 178
Television and the Reassurance of the Familiar 198
The End of the Seventies 219
Selected Bibliography 259
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For some the 1970s is so far away it seems to have been another world but it is necessary to have us remember once in a while that the hardship experienced now is but a walk in the park compared to the recession and social upheavals of the seventies. At the same time, as the author shows, the ’70 not only liberated the women it awake in them the power to ask for all that it was theirs by right. The ‘70s, or the tail end of them, was when the computer became smaller and the electronic revolution started to speed up its pace. ‘70s are also the time when terrorism was at its peak in the world and the world fought back not with armies but with clever policing. Terrorism disappeared because the people where neither swayed by the ideas of the extremist ideologies nor cowered by the seemingly disregard for human life that the terrorist showed. Nothing destroys a political movement faster than its unattractive message. The author has succeeded to write a very informative book that reads as a good thriller. One really wants to get to the next page to see how our parents (or even ourselves, young and inattentive to the world at large) survive what was thought at the time the weakening of civilization and pauperization of the developed world. It is shown in the book that every idea or movement that starts with the premise that humanity is doomed has history to hold it to its right place in the museum of ridicule ideas.