Something Happened: A Political and Cultural Overview of the Seventies

Something Happened: A Political and Cultural Overview of the Seventies

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by Edward D. Berkowitz
     
 

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According to Edward D. Berkowitz, the end of the postwar economic boom, Watergate, and Vietnam all contributed to an unraveling of the national consensus in 1970s America. His unique history-which touches on everything from the decline of the steel industry to the blossoming of Bill Gates, from Saturday Night Fever to the Sunday morning fervor of

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Overview

According to Edward D. Berkowitz, the end of the postwar economic boom, Watergate, and Vietnam all contributed to an unraveling of the national consensus in 1970s America. His unique history-which touches on everything from the decline of the steel industry to the blossoming of Bill Gates, from Saturday Night Fever to the Sunday morning fervor of evangelical preachers-argues that the postwar faith in sweeping social programs and a global U.S. mission was replaced in the 1970s by a more skeptical attitude toward the government's ability to affect society positively. Berkowitz 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. He traces the "rights revolution," in which women, gays and lesbians, and people with disabilities all successfully fought for greater recognition. He argues that reaction to these social movements as well as the issue of abortion led to the rise of powerful, politically conservative religious organizations and activists. Written by an accomplished historian of modern America and a longtime Washington insider, Something Happened is an engaging look at an important and previously unappreciated decade.

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Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times - Erik Himmelsbach

A very unsettling cautionary tale.

Financial Times - Peter Aspden

Berkowitz... has boldly attempted to put a troubled decade into proper perspective in this concise and useful summary.

Blade - Jules Wagman

An interesting look at a tumultuous time.

Christian Science Monitor - Terry Hartle

Contrary to popular wisdom, "Something Happened" in the 1970s, and Berkowitz helps us remember what that was and why it still matters.

Orange County Register - Terry hartle

A strong case that the '70s deserve far more attention than they have received.

Westside Chronicle - Eve Lichtgarn

Berkowitz has provided an essential map to what is perhaps the most misunderstood decade of the twentieth century.

Choice

Scholarly, judicious, and readable... Highly recommended.

The Journal of American History - Yanek Mieczkowski

A concise glimpse of the era... Something Happened one of the better surveys to have appeared about a significant decade.

History - M. J. Heale

Edward Berkowitz offers a highly readable account of a decade that tends to get overlooked.

Sunday Constitution

Quite a lot happened in the 1970s and this may be the concise, yet definitive account.

Associatedcontent.com

An essential map for what is perhaps the most misunderstood decade of the twentieth century.

Library Journal
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-Schaffer's America in the Seventies and Bruce J. Schulman's The Seventies: The Great Shift in American Culture, Society and Politics have shown. Now Berkowitz (history, public policy & administration, George Washington Univ.; Robert Ball and the Politics of Social Security) may have written the best of the lot. Borrowing his title from Joseph Heller's long-awaited second novel, Berkowitz defines the Seventies as the period from 1973 to 1981, a time that he sees as both transitional and truly transformational in U.S. history. He focuses chiefly on the political and economic events that fed into the rise of Reaganomics and social conservatism, but he also addresses the popular culture of the time, including the movies and television programming (which he calls the "reassurance of the familiar"). While readers will be familiar with the litany of problems and crises in the 1970s-Watergate, gasoline shortages, abortion politics, Three Mile Island, and the hostages in Iran-Berkowitz links these and other events to Americans' loss of faith in politicians and to a crisis of competence on the part of the government (reflected in both the Ford and Carter administrations). Further, he believes that the decade marked the end of individual and national self-confidence, both of which President Reagan partially restored in the 1980s. An illuminating chapter addresses the impact of feminism and the "rights revolution" on American society. An ambitious study that is still concisely focused and very readable, this will stand as the definitive book on the 1970s for some time to come. Highly recommended.-Thomas A. Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, PA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Los Angeles Times

A very unsettling cautionary tale.

— Erik Himmelsbach

Financial Times

Berkowitz... has boldly attempted to put a troubled decade into proper perspective in this concise and useful summary.

— Peter Aspden

Blade

An interesting look at a tumultuous time.

— Jules Wagman

Christian Science Monitor

Contrary to popular wisdom, "Something Happened" in the 1970s, and Berkowitz helps us remember what that was and why it still matters.

— Terry Hartle

Orange County Register

A strong case that the '70s deserve far more attention than they have received.

— Terry hartle

Westside Chronicle

Berkowitz has provided an essential map to what is perhaps the most misunderstood decade of the twentieth century.

— Eve Lichtgarn

The Journal of American History

A concise glimpse of the era... Something Happened one of the better surveys to have appeared about a significant decade.

— Yanek Mieczkowski

History

Edward Berkowitz offers a highly readable account of a decade that tends to get overlooked.

— M. J. Heale

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231500517
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
01/22/2006
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
296
Sales rank:
965,293
File size:
1 MB

What People are saying about this

Bruce J. Schulman

From Nixon to Reagan, Wilbur Mills to Bill Gates, and Roe v. Wade to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Something Happened offers a wide-ranging, nuanced, and balanced history of a watershed era in modern American life. Berkowitz's steady eye and his incisive analyses of public policy, science and medicine, and political economy make this book particularly valuable to scholars and general readers alike.

Bruce J. Schulman, Boston University, author of The Seventies: The Great Shift in American Culture, Society, and Politics

Michael B. Katz

Edward Berkowitz's Something Happened is an even-handed, reliable, comprehensive, and remarkably concise account of a decade whose events transformed the nation. Watergate, Vietnam, the oil embargo, the rights revolution, stagflation, New York City's fiscal meltdown, Three Mile Island, the Iran hostage crisis, The Godfather, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Berkowitz synthesizes all these -- and more -- in his portrait of the era that marked a momentous divide in America's political economy, foreign policy, and culture.

Michael B. Katz, University of Pennsylvania, author of The Price of Citizenship: Redefining the American Welfare State

David Farber

In Something Happened, the always masterful Ed Berkowitz brings the complexity of the seventies era to life. His pithy accounts of that era's presidents, politics, and policymaking are brilliant.

David Farber, Temple University, author of Taken Hostage: The Iran Hostage Crisis and America's First Encounter with Radical Islam

Gareth Davies

Something Happened will surely become the indispensable starting point for students, scholars, and general readers seeking to navigate the complex cross-currents of the 1970s. As well as providing a lucid and richly enjoyable overview of the key events of that elusive decade, Berkowitz does a brilliant job of placing them in the broader sweep of twentieth-century American history.

Gareth Davies, University of Oxford, author of From Opportunity to Entitlement: The Transformation and Decline of Great Society Liberalism

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