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Something Happened: A Political and Cultural Overview of the Seventies Hardcover – December 27, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

Review

An ambitious study... This will stand as the definitive book on the 1970s for some time to come. Highly recommended.

(Library Journal)

A very unsettling cautionary tale.

(Erik Himmelsbach Los Angeles Times)

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

(Peter Aspden Financial Times)

An interesting look at a tumultuous time.

(Jules Wagman Blade)

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

(Terry Hartle Christian Science Monitor)

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

(Terry hartle Orange County Register)

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

(Sunday Constitution)

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

(Associatedcontent.com)

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

(Eve Lichtgarn Westside Chronicle)

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

(Choice)

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

(Yanek Mieczkowski The Journal of American History)

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

(M. J. Heale History 1900-01-00)

Review

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)|

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)|

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)|

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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; 1st edition (December 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231124945
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231124942
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,171,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Larry Dewitt on December 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The traditional take on the decade of the seventies is that nothing much happened during that self-absorbed period. The seventies were a decade of hideous bell-bottom pants, long side-burns, gaudy leisure-suits, and a superficial engagement with civic culture. The seventies are often viewed as a kind of doldrums between the political activism of the sixties and the conservative resurgence of the eighties. But as Edward Berkowitz explains in this clear, concise, and well-written history of the 1970s, the seventies were indeed a decade in which Something Happened. In fact, a whole lot happened. According to Berkowitz, the 1970s were the decade when the social, political and economic patterns of the postwar period terminally broke down and fundamentally changed into something very different.

Through a review of the economics, politics, and cultural expressions of the period, Berkowitz is able to craft a brief but very comprehensive overview of this entire misunderstood decade. Although he focuses primarily on the public policy and politics of the era, he also provides a credible sketch of the "rights revolution" of the period, as well as some insightful social commentary in the form of reviews of the major movies of the period.

Although Berkowitz is a professor of history at George Washington University, this is not a dry, academic text. Berkowitz has a light literary touch and a style that is easy on the reader. Berkowitz's account is also refreshingly free of political agenda. In Something Happened, Berkowitz provides a clear-eyed and objective view of this surprisingly interesting period.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By ReaderinAmherst on March 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I approached this book with some trepidation--the '70s were a queasy, transitional decade. But Berkowitz did a magnificant job capturing and explicating the ambiguities and contradictions. In his remarkably even-handed overview of the period, he had me nodding with recognition and happily astonished with his explanations of things I lived through but did not understand at the time. If you are 50+ you should read this book because you'll just plain like it. If you're younger than 50, you should read it because you will learn agreat deal about a very misunderstood time in America.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Paul Tognetti TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
For me "Something Happened" A Political and Cultural Overview of the Seventies" is a very difficult book to size up. If you were over the age of 18 and paying any attention at all to current events during the 1970's then you will not find very much new information in this book. In large part I found "Something Happened" to be very matter of fact and even a bit tedious at times. Having said that I must acknowledge that author Edward Berkowitz has produced an extremely well balanced analysis of the events of this tumultous decade.

For those who are too young to remember the 1970's "Something Happened" presents a fairly comprehensive overview of the political, economic, scientific and cultural phenomenon of the decade. Berkowitz also gives us a very balanced assessment of our political leadership during the decade and attempts to explain why the country as a whole seemed to be in such a funk during these years. Berkowitz succeeds in making the argument that there was a lot more going on in the 1970's than most people realize.

In the final analysis I believe that "Something Happened" is better suited as a reference book than a book for the general reader. I would definitely not recommend it for anyone over the age of 50. While "Something Happened" was an interesting trip down memory lane I found little in the way of new information in this book and that frustrated me. And yet I can see how valuable this book might be to someone much younger than myself. All in all this was a worthwhile project that deserves a spot in your public library.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Magyar on May 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
In his study Something Happened: A political and Cultural Overview of the Seventies, historian Edward Berkowitz attempts to give the reader a comprehensive overview of the 1970s. While other writers have dismissed the decade as a relatively chaotic interlude between the radical 1960s and Reaganite 1980s, he attempts to reconstruct the decade as an important and meaningful period in American history. He attempts to provide a comprehensive overview of the political, cultural, economic and social events and developments of that decade. Unfortunately, he has no underlying argument or theme with which to bring together his large body of material and, as a result, the reader is given a series of chapters on economics, politics, etc that seem to have little connection among them. While the reader is given a lot of facts, the book attempts to make no large-scale interpretation or assessment of the decade as a whole.

However even in giving the facts, much of the coverage is rather superficial. Much of the material is taken from secondary sources. Also the are some major errors (Nixon announced his resignation from office in August, not April. Pg. 30) and some minor ones (Seattle passed its gay rights law in 1973, not 1978. Pg 153. Voers defeated a referendum measure to repeal it in 1978.). That decade stills awaits an historian to give the definitive assessment of its place in American history.
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