Salon Beauty Fall Reading Hallo nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Learn more about Amazon Music Unlimited PCB for Musical Instruments $69.99 Handmade Gift Shop Save $30 on a Deep Cleaning Appointment outlanders3premiere outlanders3premierealtText Watch Outlander on Starz with Amazon Channels outlanders3premierealtText Watch Outlander on Starz with Amazon Channels  Three new members of the Echo family All-New Fire 7, starting at $49.99 All-New Kindle Oasis GNO Shop Now HTL17_gno



on June 13, 2016
I like Haynes Johnson books but I also lean in his direction. . .I do have friends who read his books but some strongly will not!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 25, 2016
Excellent contemporary history.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
HALL OF FAMEon September 12, 2002
One of the best of the gaggle of electronic journalists who has successfully made the transition to writing full-time as a contemporary historian is former television correspondent Haynes Johnson, who has penned a wonderful series of books on American politics and social issues like "Sleepwalking Through History", a savvy and fascinating best-selling study of the Reagan's presidency and its aftermath. In this book, In "The Best of Times", Johnson adds to his series of fascinating narratives on contemporary American culture that now focuses on the intriguing developments of the 1990s. As in his previous book, "Divided We Fall; Gambling With History In The Nineties", Johnson explores the social, economic and politics realities of the times in a work that largely acts as a snapshot of the country and the polity at a particular moment in time, i.e., in the late 1990s, in the fullness of Bill Clinton's fateful Presidency.
One of the things making this book special is the author's unusual ability to draw those that he interviews out of themselves. As a result he mines some fascinating data from the wide range of people he contacted while making a kind of sentimental journey across America. He found that people quite consistently voiced concerns and reservations about the same kinds of issues; employment, race, education, public schools, and also about traditional values and what their place in contemporary America should be. Johnson divides the snapshot into four different views or perspectives; taken together they comprise his view of the state of the polity, and taken individually, each lends a critical element to the otherwise bewildering polyphony that is our contemporary culture.
The first of the snapshots is of the so-called short life of "Technotimes", which nimbly traces the daunting list of scientific particulars dotting the numbing technological advances and accompanying changes in corporate culture it imbues. The second theme, that of "Teletimes," is a distressingly accurate portrayal of the developing cult of celebrity, the contributing influence of electronic media, and its rampant manifestations throughout the social, political, and economic landscape. The third aspect investigated is what he refers to as "Scandal Times", which focuses on the sordid particulars of the Monica Lewinsky affair and the ay in which it was allowed to corrupt every aspect of the Clinton administration. Finally, he describes "Millennial Times," showing the degree of diversity and pluralism that still remains and flourishes in contemporary America.
Faced with unpleasant choices about how to deal with the development of terrorism, our new economic woes, and a rapidly evolving technology, the use of this point/counterpoint perspective has some interesting points to make about the state of the country and the culture. Thus, this is a book that paints an indelible and unforgettable portrait of today's modern America, a country characterized by the common people feeling both frightened by the brave new world we now face and yet at the same time embracing this new world with care, compassion, and courage. As always, Johnson finds ample reasons for hope and optimism, and some of the individual narratives provide ample proof that idealism isn't dead, that there are people who passionately care about their country and their values, and who are actively involved in trying to make this a better country and a better world.
0Comment| 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 6, 2002
Every so often I read an exceptional book on current topics. One such book is "The Best of Years - America in the Clinton Years" by Haynes Johnson which I read over the holidays. Johnson is a long-time television commentator, a Pulitzer Prize winner and author of numerous books over the past 35 years (about my age) on topical events.
Johnson's book, which was published in late 2001, begins with a sketch of events - or culture - in the "Golden Age" - the 1990's. It is followed by two sections giving an analysis of two major factors affecting the culture of the "'90's" - technology and the media. The book then gives an in-depth portrayal of the Clinton Scandal which one could either read or just scan if he or she wished. At the end of the book is an excellent analysis of various sectors of society which were affected by the topics discussed - sectors such as the people, the markets, the media, and the political process. It concludes with an "Epilogue" which focuses on issues our 'age' should resolve as we move into the 21st Century.
The book begins with a fascinating discussion, at least for me, of how our current 'computer' culture was developed. It also discussed the rapid advances in 'Gene Technology' during the 1990's - a technology which provides so much promise - but causes an equal amount of controversy. It then discusses how the media has changed over my (or Johnson's) lifetime - a change not necessarily for the good. Portions of the book may seem political - not a Republican or Democratic "political", but "political" from how our system of government works - or does not work. Part may seem to be an 'over-do' of the Clinton-Monica 'affair', but that is a significant portion of the overall 'culture' of the '90's and deserves a 'read'.
The book is excellent and worthy of the time from a busy schedule to read, comprehend and give thought to the issues discussed.
0Comment| 28 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 24, 2001
While Johnson's treatment of OJ and the Clinton Impeachment trial provide a quick and thorough summary of those pivotal events, the real strength in the book is in the context set in the first half. Johnson effectively argues that the growth of technology (including the internet and biotech) combined with the cable news revolution to create a context that made a scandal-prone 90s possible. OJ couldn't have happened without CNN and Court TV. Lessons learned there proved invaluable in Monica coverage. The stock market boom (and subsequent fizzle) are directly related to both technology and media. While Johnson covers much material that can be read elsewhere, it is the connections between these larger social themes that proves significant to this work. Paying attention to those themes of technology, media, and celebrity as we start a new century moves the argument far beyond "what happened when" and gives us clues of what will be read when Mr. Johnson details the first decade of the 21st Century in his next book.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 6, 2001
I received this book as a gift and had some reservations about reading an "instant history" of the 1990s, but decided to read it anyway. One cannot fault Johnson's writing, it is easy to follow, conversational, and woven throughout with interviews he conducted with leaders in the private and public sector. Rather, my disagreement with the book stems from the pithy, superficial era it covers. Yet another exegesis on the OJ trial, Microsoft, Clinton-Era scandals (a lengthy review of Monica does nothing but remind the reader how tawdry and slimy the whole episode, and the main characters therein were), leads inexorably to the rather obvious conclusion that a country experiencing unprecedented wealth, prosperity and peace will sate itself on sleaze, tabloid journalism, and sensationalism.
Johnson breaks no new ground in his examination of the Internet, and its affect on our nation. While axiomatic that the tech boom of the 1990s was largely fueled by people who sought to leverage the Internet, the final analysis of, for example, the tech bust of 2000, is still unknown. Since the effects of unemployment, consolidation, and failure in the on-line world are still being felt, the snapshot of the go-go 1990s where any and every idea regarding the 'Net seemed to meet with initial raves is just that -- a snapshot. The more fully developed historical analysis of the Internet (and our culture) from this era is still many years off.
While the mirror Johnson holds up to this time in our nation's history is a largely objective one, the book suffers because these matters are still fresh in our minds. Indeed, a chapter devoted to the DOJ investigation of Microsoft is already dated based on the recent proposed settlement of that lawsuit. On the one hand, the book is written too closely to the subjects it examines to have the luxury of hindsight, yet is also focused on subjects and a time period that by their very nature are fluid and ever-changing.
Readers would be better served to locate the seminal work "Sleepwalking through History" which covers in devastating detail the indifference and classism of the 1980s in America or Johnson's "The System" (co-authored with David Broder) that examines the hyper, disfunctional, and ugly debate on national health care in 1993-94.
0Comment| 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 24, 2001
While Johnson's treatment of OJ and the Clinton Impeachment trial provide a quick and thorough summary of those pivotal events, the real strength in the book is in the context set in the first half. Johnson effectively argues that the growth of technology (including the internet and biotech) combined with the cable news revolution to create a context that made a scandal-prone 90s possible. OJ couldn't have happened without CNN and Court TV. Lessons learned there proved invaluable in Monica coverage. The stock market boom (and subsequent fizzle) are directly related to both technology and media. While Johnson covers much material that can be read elsewhere, it is the connections between these larger social themes that proves significant to this work. Paying attention to those themes of technology, media, and celebrity as we start a new century moves the argument far beyond "what happened when" and gives us clues of what will be read when Mr. Johnson details the first decade of the 21st Century in his next book.
0Comment| 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 28, 2005
If one lived in the distant future and had no other source material with which to educate one's self about the 1990's, I shudder to think of the conclusions that might be drawn based on Johnson's selective reporting. I know few writers are so gifted as to become crystal clear channels of information, and that selecting a theme for a book is the typical practice, but why did Johnson lead the charge so far in the front, of making the 20th century's final decade out to be the land of scandal and fluff and easy money spawning shallow, sybaritic beings? If I believed what I read in this history of the last decade, I'd think nothing at all went on then except Presidential hedonism and TV tabloid coverage of salacious events. I'd get the impression the world was run by bloated mega-corporations that rose and fell in the space of hours along the information superhighway, each having the substance of a cumulus cloud. Give us some credit! The 1990's also saw the end of Communism in Europe, legislated racial barriers legally abolished in South Africa, the peaceful handover of Hong Kong by the British to the Chinese, and it witnessed (in contrast to the lurid tales of bloodshed in this book) the most drastic drop in US crime rates in generations. In the 1990's, Americans became more prosperous, more contented, and dwelled in relative peace. I suppose what I'm getting at is that both here and in his 1980's remembrance, Sleepwalking Thru History, Johnson confines his observations and explorations to a distressingly narrow field, and in so doing creates an impression of times as they truly were not. A perspicacious reader will find motivations to challenge a lot of what's given central importance in this book, and for those who might come later or who lived thru the 1990's and are led astray into condensing a dynamic ten-year period into a series of dot-com booms, domestic slayings and Oval Office trysts, I'd say if you need to balance this work with better and more serious sources.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon December 26, 2001
Haynes Johnson’s latest work takes you into the nineties. A decade where the market soared and technology boomed. A decade when scandal seemed to be on everyone’s mind and on everyone’s TV.
A good portion of this book involves Clinton and his escapades. Other portions talk about technology and its affect on everything from the sciences, where the genome is being mapped, to the Internet, and its web over the country. The popularity of scandal TV and reality TV get quite a bit of mention also. From the O.J. debacle to the Monica story. Is it the dumbing down of the media for the public or the other way around?
Johnson has summarized the nineties fairly well. This brief history covers quite a bit of territory and is written in a concise and readable way.
If you’ve kept up with the times, you won’t learn anything new here, but it will bring back some either good or bad memories.
22 comments| 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 5, 2004
The song goes, "The best of times is here." I know it was not written during the Clinton years as President of this fine country. The title of this book is deceptive (I think that Haynes Johnson did a bit of 'sleepwalking' himself through these turbulent years) as he admits later on that it was a time of lost opportunities. How then, could these have been the 'best of times.'
Far from the best, for some it was the worst. Take for instance the debacle of the OJ trial which kept me and thousands of others tuned in to Court TV instead of getting on with our lives. He tells in great detail starting with the stupidity played out with tv cameras showing the white Bronco merely going from one place to another. There was no race or attempt at escape. It was just dumb reporting. On hindsight, I think how stupid OJ was and the millions of his fans who tried to stand by him. I too was stupid to sit day after day to learn all the details, only to be deceived with all the coverup and the final payoff when he is let go scot free. What a country! How could this possibly be ever a good time, certainly not a 'best' time. It was a tragedy laid on the conscience of a country who should have let the man have his day in court without all the hoopla.
Why Mr. Johnson even included Clinton in the title is mind boggling as he tore down all the man's image and laid out the dirty laundry. Weren't we all told to keep one's sins to himself and not include innocent bystanders? He may be a university teacher, but I wonder if he has morals of his own.
He is trying to persuade us commoners that there has been a confirmation of the existence of extraterrestrial life somewhere out there. I'm not sure my son believes that anymore, as he once did when a grad student in astronomy at the University of Chicago. It seems we have enough intelligent life here on earth. Why brain wash the public when nothing is confirmed?
Who cares anyway whether we are alone in the vast universe? Maybe they are true (these rumors) but suffice it to say, they (whoever, whatever they are) will not be like us.
The Jet Propulsion Lab at Pasadena will not have the last word. If you believe in God, you know that He has us here for a reason -- to love one another and to help your fellow man -- not to spend enormous sums to determine if aliens exist. They are already here amongst us.
More power to Bill Clinton who did the best he could with what he had to work with. If these were the best of times, perhaps they were for him. He had a ball there in the White House. This commentator whom I have never heard or seen is clearly pro-Bush.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Customers also viewed these items


Need customer service? Click here