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The Seventies: The Great Shift In American Culture, Society, And Politics

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  504 ratings  ·  59 reviews
"A sprightly, neatly detailed and enlightening history...this is an important contribution to modern American social history and the literature of popular culture." (Publishers Weekly)

Sweeping away misconceptions about the "Me Decade," Bruce Schulman offers a fast-paced, wide-ranging, and brilliant examination of the political, cultural, social, and religious upheavals of
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 18th 2002 by Da Capo Press (first published 2001)
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Jackson Burnett
Jan 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Seventies is written well enough to be popular history; it's researched and thoughtful enough to be a college textbook.

Author Bruce Schulman claims the 1970's were more influential than the 1960's and substantiates his argument. He shows how disparate events developed into trends that influenced the rest of the century. The book is engaging to read, both for its social and political history.

I give the book only four stars because the book underplays, I think, the effects of the Women's Movem
Jill Hutchinson
I felt that this book was inconsistent in its approach to the overlooked decade of the 1970s. There were sections which were fascinating as we saw government morph into the age of Nixon, music evolve into punk and disco (now there are two conflicting styles!!!), and the flower power of the 1960s disappear for a more reality based culture. But the author had has own biases which I won't even try to outline and they affected the presentation of the material and made for sections that were painfull ...more
Jeff Garrison
I have a confession to make. I've been enlightened and now need to do some serious penance. Back in the 70s, I was a chauvinistic, misogynistic, homophobic racist. I must repent of my sins. I just thought I hated disco and liked good rock and roll music, but now, thanks to Mr. Shulman, I see the errors of my ways. Shulman points out how those who shunned disco were guilty of a host of society's evils. (73-75) Or maybe I'll just revert to my redneck and anti-elite ways and ask, "what do you expec ...more
Simon Purdue
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
In Bruce Shulman’s all-encompassing history of the forgotten decade of the 1970s, he sheds light on what was a defining era in American politics and society. Using primarily cultural sources Schulman’s primary thesis suggests that the 1970s was an era in which the melting pot ideal finally gave way to a more centrifugal society, in which diversity was prioritised above integration and Americans found that their interests were better served within their separate spheres of identity rather than a ...more
Thomas M Brizendine
Jun 04, 2016 rated it did not like it
The author's mostly liberal social and political opinions of the late sixties and eighties with a little commentary on the seventies. Playing fast and loose with the facts (one passage specifies an event that the author claims in the next sentence to have a result in the previous year) to 'prove' his opinions, this book fails at being a historical narrative. In fact, it is so far over into opinion vs fact I cannot bring myself to add it to a "History" bookshelf; it's more at home on my "Historic ...more
Chris Jaffe
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a generally interesting and engaging look at the 1970s. Schulman's main point is that while popular memory gives the 1960s a huge legacy, the 1970s were a more important decade with several lasting changes to America. These changes include: the feminist movement, the growing importance of the South to the nation's politics and culture, the rising tend of small government conservativism, the rise of religious envangelicalism, and the shift from integration to diversity.

It's generally
M.L. Rio
A decent read but a little unbalanced; popular culture is basically glossed in one chapter about music (and pretty much exclusively the disco/punk dichotomy), while there are several dense chapters of economic and political minutiae which become very dull very quickly. The chapters also seem to exist pretty much independently of one another, and apart from the cause/effect relationship between the rise of the Sunbelt and the rise of conservatism and a couple of odd paragraphs about the connectio ...more
F.C. Schaefer
Jan 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
That much maligned decade, the 1970s, actually had a bigger impact, and a more enduring legacy than the much romanticized, and consequential, 1960s that preceded it. That is the contention of Boston University professor Bruce J. Schulman in his book, THE SEVENTIES: The Great Shift in American Culture, Society, and Politics. Despite that mouthful of a title, Schulman’s book, coming in at just over 250 pages, is a short and fast look at the clashing politics, personalities and culture of the decad ...more
Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a very readable survey of the 70s, which is notable particularly because it's such a difficult era to write about, though it should be prefaced with a warning that Schulman's own personal biases and assumptions invade perhaps a bit more than they should. Music is difficult to write about in an historical context (particularly music which is still comparatively recent), but Schulman's distaste for artists like Bowie, Pink Floyd and other similar icons is strange and misplaced, and reads ...more
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Read this for a course, but it was very good. It's not a very long book, but it is densely packed with information. The way it is organized makes it both interesting and informative. The author dances between the sixties and the eighties, exploring the movements, people, and politics of the seventies. ...more
Jul 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. Schulman makes a convincing case for the transformative power of the seventies over American life- from the ascendancy of the Sunbelt region to the subversion of Richard Nixon. The parallels between the seventies and now are equally fascinating and depressing.
Feb 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Got me back into non-fiction after a long hiatus. And totally explained my mother, which was nice.
Sean Chick
Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is what history should be. Of course I do not agree with everything, but it is thought provoking and entertaining.
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I don't think I have encountered in recent memory a book so heavily lifted from other sources. There are over 50 pages dedicated just to the notes section. It was not what I had hoped it would be. ...more
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you've ever wantes to read about one of the most ignored decades in modern American history, this book is for you. Often, we don't consider the seventies to be one of the great decades. It lives in the shadow of the sixties, and falls short of the good times of the eighties. Yet in this book, we get to see just how important the seventies have been overall. How the attitudes of the seventies influenced the eighties, and much of the following years. This book is thorough, and perusing the note ...more
Jan 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Schulman's wide-ranging work covers culture, society and politics in what he calls the long Seventies (1969-1984). His analysis of Nixon's subtle reduction the growth of government, Carter's many economic failures, and Reagan's cheerful boosterism of free markets and national defense are solid if not ground breaking. I particularly enjoyed his look at the anti-authoritarian attitudes in music and film. He outlines how the national culture, pushed by a sense of liberation, splintered into the ide ...more
Jul 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
I wanted to learn more about the 70s from a political, social (non pop culture) perspective, and this book delivered. I enjoyed some chapters more than others, and it sometimes veered into dry territory but all told, I thought it was a succinct, broad view of the decade. The other thing I liked about it was its connection to the following decade - the author did a nice job of illustrating the impact the 70s had on the 80s and other long-term effects of a decade that is usually only remembered fo ...more
Nov 18, 2019 rated it liked it
For wrapping 10 years into less than 300 pages it wasn't bad. I gained some info and left with more than i came with, so I can't complain. I was a bit confused by the last chapter before the conclusion. It was all about President Reagan. Although there were some connections made, I don't think there needs to be a whole chapter dedicated to a 1980's president. ...more
Jwt Jan50
Jul 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Lived this decade. I was researching some of the aspects of Nixon's resignation and our subsequent non-support of South Vietnam. Not the detail I was looking for in Schulman. This is a popular approach to the decade. An okay starting point if you weren't there, but I'd recommend further research. I'd love to have Robert Caro tackle the decade after he finishes LBJ. ...more
Chloe Kate
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Surprisingly informative

I read this book for an essay I needed to write and it was honestly mind blowing to read about the seventies in a new light. I learned probably a semesters worth of work in two days.
Wendy McBain
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
I don't know. Could have been a bit better. A little too much late sixties and early to mid-eighties included. I only scan it every now and then when I need to reference the 70s to see if the author has made notation of the particular issue I'm interested in. ...more
Andrew Degruccio
Sep 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is not a comprehensive review of history pertaining to the seventies. It specifically explores the shift in American culture and society which originated in the seventies. It is compelling and confirms its thesis by following through well into the late 80's and 90's. Worth a read. ...more
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very much enjoyed this book. I've read a lot of separate sections of it for different courses I have taken but finally buckled down and read what I hadn't yet gotten to. Happy I did. ...more
Teresa Lawler
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm ready for the Gilder Lehrman in Atlanta! ...more
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
There are half a dozen scholarly works on the 70s, and this is arguably the best book on the decade. It covers politics, pop culture, public policy, demographic shifts, technology, etc. Everything from Watergate to The Godfather to the “Sun Belt” to energy policy. Powerful analysis of complicated trends, but with an easy narrative style accessible to the general public.
Rob S
Jul 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
The Seventies as a decade is often written-off due to having the luck of being sandwiched in between the 60's and 80's. In fact, the 1970's often feels like how people will look at the 2000's, a time that has been defined largely by its economic crises and loss of confidence in government.

The Seventies is a odd decade for me, especially as a Liberal. It gave us some of the greatest music and movies to ever be produced. Films like The Godfather Part I and II, Taxi Driver, The Conversation, Apocal
Jan 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
"American politics pushed toward widening the circle of 'we,' downplaying the difference and including more in 'us.' That strategy might have been assimilationist, but it allowed liberals like Humphrey to provide economic security and political power to millions of disenfranchised Americans. It made activist government possible and popular. But during the early 1970s, Americans retreated from that expansive, universalist vision. Instead of widening the 'we,' the nation reconstructed itself as ca ...more
May 21, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The major point of this book is that the 70s were the beginning of the "southernization" of America. That's an important point. Southern music, (Allman Brothers, etc.), fashion, (cowboy bars and clothes) religion (evangelicals) and especially its conservative politics (the rise of the sun belt and its patron saint, R. Reagan) are all still with us today. Okay, not cowboy bars, but the rest.

But I see two problems in the book.

First, Schulman pits disco fans against punk fans. He suggests that dis
Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
It took me a while to finish this, but it was worth it. A well-researched and entertaining survey of American politics and culture from the late ‘60s to early ‘80s. Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Watergate, stagflation, minority rights movements, rednecks, televangelism, New Age mysticism, disco, hip hop, punk rock, New Wave, the “war of the sexes”, environmentalism, tax revolts, Reaganomics… so much that directly prefigured and continues to inform today’s major public debates. Sprinkled with captivatin ...more
Jan 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: culture, politics, history
Schulman give the Seventies its due as a time period worthy of scholarly consideration. Throughout the book, he skillfully weaves together political, cultural and economic shifts in the American landscape. In doing so, he convincingly argues that the Seventies resulted in the southernization of the United States -- in its religions zealotry, cultural preferences, and political centers of power. Highly recommended read for those seeking to understand the ground from which the New Right emerged.
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