- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1 edition (March 2, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1586488457
- ISBN-13: 978-1586488451
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 42 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,714,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Strange Days Indeed: The 1970s: The Golden Days of Paranoia 1st Edition
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*Starred Review* Like the 1960s, the 1970s were more of a concept than a specific 10-year period. If the ’60s were defined by the sexual revolution and civil-rights activism, the ’70s’ central theme, Wheen suggests, was paranoia. World leaders such as U.S. president Nixon and British prime ministers Heath and Wilson were well known for delusional and sometimes irrational behavior; writers such as Philip K. Dick and Norman Mailer published works that displayed a troubling paranoia (OK, Mailer was right, and the FBI really was spying on him, but nobody knew that for certain until 30-odd years later). American cinemas were full of movies with themes of paranoia: The Conversation, The Parallax View, even Jaws. In the movies, the paranoia is justified because the fears are legitimate: there really is a government conspiracy, and the politicos of Amity really are willing to sacrifice people’s lives to keep the beaches open. Oh, and let’s not forget Watergate, Jonestown, and the cold war. The 1970s provide a rich panorama of paranoia, and Wheen explores it gleefully, writing about its “pungent mélange of apocalyptic dread and conspiratorial fever” and pointing out how, no matter how surreal the decade seems in retrospect, there are startling moments of familiarity and déja vu (when you think about it, our world today is not so different). A hugely entertaining book that makes you laugh, think, and look over your shoulder—sometimes all at the same time. --David Pitt
“The author ably navigates the shattered landscape of the decade, which, for all its awfulness, has inspired a fair share of nostalgia…Literate, authentic to period detail and often entertaining.”
Booklist, STARRED review
“A hugely entertaining book that makes you laugh, think, and look over your shoulder—sometimes all at the same time.”
“[W]riting like Hunter S. Thompson might have had he been English and sober, Wheen offers a vivid, entertaining guide to an era of fear and loathing.”
The New Republic
The Los Angeles Times
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My one minor carp would be that some of the transatlantic jumps between chapters jar from time to time, but that's inevitable given the chosen structure. It's not a comprehensive look at this decade but it's an excellent and highly entertaining overview that is a good entry point to find areas for further reading. Don't forget to read the footnotes, they are pretty interesting too!
Were the '70's unique in their paranoia...I don't know, but it seems right to me that paranoia would occur in a decade where a a general shedding of self confidence was occurring in the "developed" world. Madness in politics and political leaders is, unfortunately, not a hallmark of this decade, the media spotlight on it was new, the immediacy of the far corners of the world and the entrance into the private conversations, the bedrooms of the worlds of political leaders was entirely new. And Francis Wheen has chosen examples of this madness to intrigue and edify those of us who have a taste for this sort of thing.
It's a fun book, perhaps not meant to be taken overly seriously, which will provide some insights into the less known British events that defined the decade in that corner of Europe.