THE SEVENTIES: The Decade That Changed the Future by Christopher Booker

THE SEVENTIES: The Decade That Changed the Future

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Some repetitive bombast from Britain--most of these 50-or-so (mostly) short pieces originated as newspaper columns--to the effect that ""the whole of mankind's great post-Renaissance adventure,"" the belief in Progress, the faith in ""reason alone,"" petered out in the Seventies, partly in a ""groundswell of reaction against the frenzied contemporaneity and rude disorder of the Sixties"" (subject of Booker's 1970 The Neophiliacs). Hero of the decade is predictably the Solzhenitsyn of the Harvard speech--where he said that ""the great humanist, materialist adventure on which mankind has embarked in the past 500 years is not going to work."" Kenneth Clark, in Civilization (""the most successful series television has ever produced""), inadvertently said it too. The collapse of the ""Modern Movement"" (a particular Booker bugbear) and the historic-preservation kick demonstrate it. Its representative figures are ""super-egotists"" Richard Nixon, Harold Wilson, and David Frost. Booker's malicious piece on the latter--whom he knew as ""a kind of affectionately regarded joke"" at Cambridge--is, indeed, the liveliest thing in the book. He's better altogether at putting Seventies' media personalities in their place (others are Tom Wolfe, Germaine Greer, John Betjeman) than at invoking the new world a-coming--in some vague way, via Jungian psychology and a return to ""union with the divine."" As for the bankruptcy of Western civilization, we've heard that death-knell before.

Pub Date: Jan. 26th, 1980
Publisher: Stein & Day