Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Trade in your item
Get a $2.00
Gift Card.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Pivotal Decade: How the United States Traded Factories for Finance in the Seventies Hardcover – May 25, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

See all 7 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$57.89 $19.71

Excel 2016 For Dummies Video Training
Discover what Excel can do for you with self-paced video lessons from For Dummies. Learn more.
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews


"A highly original illumination of how the American Century collapsed."—Rick Perlstein, The Nation  
(Rick Perlstein The Nation 2010-10-21)

"[An] elegant, pinpoint dissection of the economic mistakes and far-reaching policy decisions of the seventies."—Oscar Villalon, Virginia Quarterly Review
(Oscar Villalon Virginia Quarterly Review)

"Here is one of those rare books in which a seasoned historian offers compelling analyses of urgent contemporary importance. Pivotal Decade will startle and provoke you.  It is on my not-miss list."—Sean Wilentz, Princeton University
(Sean Wilentz)

"In this probing, economically literate analysis, Judith Stein explains how and why the 1970s became the only 20th century decade other than that of the Great Depression during which Americans ended up poorer than they began. By explaining how we got to an economy that subordinates the manufacture of stuff to one that trades, finances, and consumes it, Stein provides the fullest story of the way economic stagnation prepared the way for a new era of social inequality. Citizens of Obama's America should take note."—Nelson Lichtenstein, author of The Retail Revolution: How Wal-mart Created a Brave New World of Business
(Nelson Lichtenstein)

"Americans perplexed by the use of defective Chinese steel to rebuild the iconic San Francisco Bay Bridge will find an explanation for their puzzlement in Judith Stein's Pivotal Decade: How the United States Traded  Factories for Finance in the Seventies. Bringing together political and economic history in the context of American foreign policy, Stein shows how Americans allowed the allure of paper profits to undermine our economic underpinnings."—Fred Siegel, The Cooper Union for Science and Art
(Fred Siegel)

"Judith Stein gets it. Pivotal Decade's illustration and examination of the last forty years of failed economic policy will be a powerful text for our generation as well as for the future. We must learn these lessons once and for all—before it's too late."—Leo W. Gerard, president, United Steelworkers
(Leo W. Gerard)

“An extraordinary achievement.”—The Journal of American History
(The Journal of American History)

“Pivotal Decade is an important explanation of how liberal became a dirty word and how conservative views came to dominate American political life for so long.”—Eric Foner, TheBrowser.com
(Eric Foner TheBrowser.com)

“Stein succeeds not only in making the 1970s much more interesting to read about, but in revealing the decade as the great historical pivot from postwar American boom to bust.”—David Chappell, Journal of the Historical Society
(David Chappell Journal of the Historical Society)

“Stein's book is full of fine-grained arguments about economics, labor, and history.”—Josh Rothman, The Boston Globe
(Boston Globe)

“This book should be required reading for anyone seeking to understand how the economic restructuring of the 1970s led to our current age of inequality. It is a masterful study of the history of capitalism that is driven not by ideology but by a clearheaded interpretation of historical events and patterns.”—Shane Hamilton, Industrial and Labor Relations Review
(Shane Hamilton Industrial and Labor Relations Review)

""[A]n outstanding analytical history of the origins of neoliberalism in the 1970s."—Frank J. Whittington, The Gerontologist
(Frank J. Whittington The Gerontologist)

About the Author

Judith Stein is professor of history at the City College and Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is the author of The World of Marcus Garvey and Running Steel, Running America.

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030011818X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300118186
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,897,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Important Information

Example Ingredients

Example Directions

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jonathan Zasloff on January 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Pivotal Decade is a well-written history of American political economy in the 1970's, with a policy agenda just below the surface. If you thought that the 1970's were about the end of Vietnam, Watergate, bell bottoms, disco, and Iran, then this book will try to disabuse you of those notions, and go a long way toward doing so. The problem is that it doesn't really make the sale. It leaves us with more questions than answers, which is fine -- even preferable -- for a work of history, but frustrating for a policy piece.

Stein argues that the 1970's represented a time of US deindustrialization, and that federal policy failures were a principal cause of this trend. Instead of aggressively fighting for domestic manufacturing, both Republican and Democratic administrations chose to placate Japan and European allies on Cold War grounds: keeping them prosperous would strengthen the western alliance. And instead of intervening "microeconomically" to assist key sectors like autos and steel, economic policymakers, focusing on Keynesian fine-tuning, denied that there was a problem altogether and insisted that the federal government's only job was to stimulate and maintain aggregate demand.

Jimmy Carter comes in for particular abuse, although he is seen as part of a long-term trend within the Democratic party, namely, the dominance of "new politics" liberals uninterested in bread-and-butter economic issues like wages and living standards, and focused only on foreign policy, cultural issues, and the environment. These "new politics" forces developed when the critique of America's "affluent society" was at its apex; by the mid- to late 1970's, when these issues had been eclipsed by the flatlining of the US economy, they had no ideas to solve the problem.
Read more ›
5 Comments 22 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
This book is very well researched but it often seems the facts gained from that research don't get put to good use. I wasn't sure what the author's thesis was through most of the book; there were threads of foreign trade, New Democrats, Keynesianism v. supply side, unions, national manufacturing policy, etc. but I didn't feel like it was adequately pulled together to form a coherent argument.

I did basically enjoy the book, having come of age in the '70's, so it was interesting to resurrect some of the old political names and issues that I remember hearing nightly on the evening news. And it was useful to be reminded that the U.S. trade imbalance began as long ago as the Nixon administration, it didn't just begin with Reagan and continue with succeeding administrations, as seems to be a current popular theme among some political pundits. This, and the idea that ecomomy-stimulating measures, whether Keynesian or supply-side, won't get results if the economy's structurally flawed, are the two points I got from reading this book. But the rest--should we redevelop our manufacturing base, is it even possible, have we moved along too far to go back, should there be a national manufacturing policy--is not discussed particularly well in this book and one should probably turn to other books for better insight. I suppose I'd start with Robert Reich's "Work of Nations", which the author cites, and go from there.

One minor quibble: the author spends entirely too much time on the details of presidental primary battles. How does it matter to the question of the trade imbalance that Wilbur Mills made a run at the presidency in 1972?
Comment 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
This is a very important book for anyone who wants to understand the root causes of our current economic troubles. One of the most frustrating aspects of the mainstream media's coverage of the recession of 2008 and 2009 is the complete absence of historical context. In The Pivotal Decade Professor Stein provides the reader with a brilliant, detailed economic history of the 1970s, demonstrating that America's 21st century economic catastrophe has its roots in the 1970s, when our political leaders utterly failed to understand the changing global economy, largely because they were mesmerized by the theology of Free Markets and Free Trade while more pragmatic nations protected and nurtured domestic industry. While our competitors understood the importance of intelligent government involvement in the economy and developed industrial policies, US leaders did nothing as our industrial base evaporated and good jobs disappeared forever. (If you wonder, as many have, whatever became of good jobs, the answer is, we eliminated most of them 30 to 40 years ago. Our failure to do anything to protect our industrial base and to preserve good jobs is hardly a secret; the deindustrialzation of America happened right before our eyes, and often with government assistance in the 1970s and 1980s).

Stein has produced a very well researched and brilliantly incisive economic history of the 1970s. The Pivotal Decade is quite well written, and like a good detective story, it is a page turner which maintains the reader's interest to the last page. It is also an infuriating book, but one feels grateful to Stein for providing her readers with the absolutely necessary historical context of our current economic crisis, a context the mainstream media cannot, or will not, discuss. One hopes that Stein will also provide us with an economic history of the 1980s that is as fascinating and well researched as The Pivotal Decade's economic history of the 1970s.
Comment 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse