HOW WE GOT HERE by David Frum


The 1970s: The Decade That Brought You Modern Life (For Better or Worse)
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Fun and factual popular history tracing our present-day culture to its roots in the 1970s.

The 1970s? Absolutely, according to conservative analyst Frum (Dead Right, 1994; What’s Right, 1996), who here considers

how very radical we Americans have become. Despite all the marches, assassinations, drugs, and music of the 1960s, Frum

maintains that the "70s were more formative. A gas crisis, a crack epidemic, an economic slump, and disco aren't as sexy as

hippies in the mud, but Frum persuasively demonstrates that our watershed years coincided with the Watergate era, when we

retooled Detroit, launched the Information Age, and, true to the backlash reflected in the 1974 movie Death Wish, incarcerated

criminals instead of blaming society. Frum crowns actor Alan Alda the "70s prototype of the newly sensitive man, echoing the

tremulous emotion heard in crooners like James Taylor. He calls this vast "shift in emotional climate a kind of global

moistening"; it allowed even male politicians to weep, another effect of the women's movement. The joy of sex seems to have

been discovered in 1972: "Feminists like Germaine Greer championed promiscuity as a means to break women's `doglike'

devotion to men, and the young women of the 1970s listened and obeyed." Virginity went out of style, even as women suddenly

became police officers or bus drivers. All this put millions in day care, and divorce skyrocketed. Food turned global and had to

be nutritious, a concern for health also demonstrated in new protective sports gear. Looking out for number one financially

initiated our era's greed. The increase in stock investing, intensified with the Internet, began in the `70s. Before Dress Down

Friday there was the 1970s jeans explosion. Today's politically correct minority visibility first emerged in the '70s. In short, it’s

hard to spot a topic not covered here.

A thoroughly enjoyable time capsule for the turn of the century. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-465-04195-7
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2000


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