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The Seventies: The Great Shift In American Culture, Society, And Politics Paperback – April 16, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0306811265 ISBN-10: 030681126X Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 334 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; Reprint edition (April 16, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030681126X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306811265
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

During the era that Jonathan Livingston Seagull was soaring high on self-help platitudes, the Village People were bringing a campy sensibility to the discos, and "Ms." was replacing older forms of female address, the United States, according to Schulman, was undergoing some of the most drastic and profound changes in its history. A professor of history and director of American Studies at Boston University, Schulman has fashioned a sprightly, neatly detailed and enlightening history of a period that many historians have written off as an uneventful time. While Saturday Night Live embodied the "contempt for authority" that was prevalent during the period, it was, he says, also part of a culture that "reinvented America" in ways that were deeply progressive and political. From social movements like feminism, gay liberation and the "gray panthers," to the emergence of Jimmy Carter and the politics of the sunbelt, to the startling notion of "diversity" "the prospect of unlike, unassimilable groups as a good to be valued" the 1970s altered basic concepts about the individual, race, economics, politics and society. This book's power comes from its ability to capture both the myriad contradictions as well as the cultural and political syncopations of the time. Schulman's breadth of examples from popular and political culture and his ability to use them to illuminate one another make for astute analysis as well as colorful social history. Far more historically accurate, nuanced and judicious than David Frum's How We Got Here: The 70's (2000), this is an important contribution to modern American social history and the literature of popular culture.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Last year, conservative polemicist David Frum asserted in How We Got Here (LJ 2/15/00) that it was the Seventies rather than the Sixties that defined the final quarter of the American century. Historian Schulman (Boston Univ.; From Cotton Belt to Sun Belt) starts and ends with the same premise but keeps his ideological perspectives under wraps in this consistently incisive and interpretative account of America from Nixon's second term through Reagan's first. Schulman masterfully summarizes the essential policy approaches of each administration during an era of isolationist sentiment, mistrust of government, hedonism, and disillusionment with New Deal liberalism. Comfortable with politics, economics, and a wide range of social phenomena, Schulman is equally penetrating when describing the transformation of the marginal Goldwater New Right into the Reagan majority and reevaluating the culture of disco and significance of Rambo. Indeed, this book only disappoints in its rare omissions; for instance, Schulman never mentions the Iranian hostages and fails to get across the psychological intensity of the energy crisis. Until he gets around to an expanded edition, this is the best first word on the subject, required for academic libraries and worthwhile for most public collections. Scott H. Silverman, Bryn Mawr Coll. Lib., PA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Buy it only if you cannot find any other book on the same topic.
"amdub"
So when I discovered Bruce Shulman's book, The Seventies-The Great Shift In American Culture, Society, and Politics, I saw an analytical treasure trove.
Daniel J. Hamlow
Notwithstanding, this was an excellent summary of a pivotal and often misunderstood era of our story.
Timothy Donahue

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Daniel J. Hamlow HALL OF FAME on November 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I have a preoccupation with the 1970's, as I should've lived in America and become more Americanized during that formative period of my youth. Well, guess what? I did a little, but not enough of the 1970's culture was filtered into my household. As a result, I felt alienated from America, and still haven't come to terms with it. So when I discovered Bruce Shulman's book, The Seventies-The Great Shift In American Culture, Society, and Politics, I saw an analytical treasure trove. Basically, the beginnings of contemporary America began not in the 60's, but the 70's, and Schulman effectively makes his case here.
With the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy in 1968, the optimism that had lighted the country burned out into the disillusionment of the 1970's. The melting pot was transformed into a salad bowl in the 70's, as various ethnic groups went on the cultural nationalism bandwagon, be they African-Americans, Italian-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Chinese-Americans, whatever-Americans. I remember those commercials on a certain group, with someone concluding, "I'm proud to be a Chinese/Italian/Japanese-American."
The various fads and movements are also touched on here, such as Werner Erhard's EST, radical feminism, New Age, the New Right Christians, the environmentalist movement, Gray Panthers, to list a few. Strangely enough, the SLA, People's Temple and the Moonies aren't mentioned. But the people thought there must be another answer. After losing Vietnam, we had entered, in the words of Jimmy Carter, "a crisis of confidence," even before he came to office.
The feeling that authority figures were not trustworthy hit a high point with Watergate, and an early chapter focuses on Richard Nixon and his policies.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By P Magnum HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Bruce J. Schulman's takes a look at how the Seventies shaped the political structure of today. The book actually stretches from 1968 to 1985 and Mr. Schulman deftly shows how the country's political power shifted from the Northeast to the South and how the country moved from the prevailing liberalism of the left to the conservative right. Along the way he discusses the presidencies of Nixon, Carter & Reagan and the social and cultural movements such as Women's Lib, The New South, Minority Equality and others as well as issues like property taxes, environmentalism, skyrocketing inflation and the energy crisis. Interspersed among all the political talk is a look at the music, film, television and how they mirrored the times. Mr. Schulman does a superb job of showing how the 70's seemed to a time of malaise, but actually shaped our country more than we think.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on January 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
I'm a huge fan of the alt-rocker Jonathan Richman, so I should have been delighted that Bruce Schulman devoted nearly 4 pages in a book of only 250 pages to covering Jonathan's songs and performance style. But I found myself wondering why a book that starts with Richard Nixon and ends with Ronald Reagan can waste so much space on a minor punk and rock influence. It's as if the author, a professor in Boston, was trying to show that he was cool because (though he doesn't say it), he went to Jonathan's shows when he was an undergrad in Cambridge.

I grew up in 70s -- finished high school in 1980 -- and I know the terrain well enough to be able to state this book gives a reasonable sense of what it was like to live during that era. The author does a good job of showing how the failure of 1960s radicals and hippies to transform the world led to the cynical, ironic, and disillusioned 70s, and then to the highly selfish 80s. He gives a good sense of how the decade felt frivolous, especially after Vietnam was wound down and Nixon left office, and then the economy slammed into a wall when the oil embargoes started. He hits the cultural high spots (or low spots, depending on your perspective): disco and punk music challenging the giant arena rock shows; television expanding beyond white suburban families; the rise of women in sports, business, and politics; etc. So far, so good.

But this book falls far short in many ways. First, it spends too much time on politics at the highest level -- Nixon, Carter, Reagan -- without going into enough depth. To understand the economic challenges that Jimmy Carter faced would require a book itself. To understand Richard Nixon's rise and flameout would require a whole library.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Bill Corporandy on June 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
First of all, Schulman's concept of the 1970's as a unique historical period actually covers the period 1968-84 and makes some big omissions within that time frame. The dust cover compares the book to Halberstam's classic, The Fifties, Halberstam's book is twice as long and overall more insightful and entertaining. Politically, Schulman virtually ignores the Ford years, and much of our foreign policy, including events that had a deep impact on the American psyche such as the fall of Saigon, Cambodian genocide,the hostage crisis, terrorism, Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, etc.
The book is very interesting in its analysis of Nixon's long range covert strategy to undermine liberalism and his animosity towards the Republican Eastern establishment and its old money backers. In another very interesting chapter, Schulman gives us his take on the tax revolt which actually began in the early seventies as a leftist movement. He has some great facts on Reagan who, for example, raised sales and income taxes more than 50% during his years as governor of California.
Schulman's analysis of feminism is relatively superficial and uninsightful and his take on culture is spotty at best, we are told a lot about a few of his favorite musicians while other important musicians and movements are ignored, a bit about movies and TV, and virtually nothing about art, dance, and literature. Overall, about a third of the book is great and the rest is just OK.
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