How We Got Here

How We Got Here

The 70's, the Decade That Brought You Modern Life (for Better or Worse)

Book - 2000
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Thirty years ago most people started their day with a cup of Maxwell House. Now you can buy a cappuccino made with Sumatran coffee beans and steamed milk. A generation ago, we idealized the craggy, inexpressive man epitomized by Gary Cooper. Today Clint Eastwood feels obliged to weep on screen. We live in a world made new, and made new not only by new machines, but also by new feelings, new thoughts and new manners. A Rip van Winkle who nodded off in the 1940s and woke up today would be astonished by women bus drivers, middle-aged men going to work in khaki pants and baseball caps, millions of children in daycare, and the crumbling of the mainline Protestant churches. If asked when and how these changes came about, most people would probably point to the 1960s. But David Frum argues that it was the supposedly quiescent 1970s that created modern America, that altered the American personality forever. The decade left behind a country that was less self-confident, less literate, less polite, less economically equal, more competitive, more expressive and more sexual. Frum examines this metamorphosis through political events, popular opinion polls, films, music, advertising and more to describe the most total social transformation the United States has lived through since the coming age of industrialism. How We Got Here is lively and provocative reading.
Publisher: [Toronto] : Random House Canada, c2000.
ISBN: 9780679309666
Branch Call Number: 973.92 Fru
Characteristics: xxiv, 418 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.


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Jan 23, 2011

I picked up this book because its title made me curious. After having read most of it, I think Frum has mostly made his point. He made several compelling arguments about the less-than-great effects of the 70s on the national culture. And I'm glad that I didn't have to live through (much of) the decade. It was a pretty interesting read -- a little uneven. The chapter segments start out strong with anectdotes, and then kind of dwindle away into lists of dry statistics. But the subject matter is interesting.

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