Many, perhaps most, conservatives point to the 1960s as the period that opened the floodgates to the countless social plagues that threaten to drown us. Not so, says David Frum. The ’60s were but a shadow of what was to come. In 1969, he notes, America still valued faith, self-reliance, self-sacrifice, and family loyalty. Then came the 1970s, the decade that truly reinvented America.
Now, in this first ever popular history of that era by a prominent conservative, Frum, contributing editor to The Weekly Standard, lays bare the nation’s most stark social upheaval since the Industrial Revolution. Finally, the book that does for the ’70s what Robert Bork’s “Slouching Toward Gomorrah” did for the ’60s. In this blow-by-blow history of liberalism’s takeover of American culture, David Frum puts almost every major and minor trend of the ’70s under the conservative microscope, from the rise of pop psychology, astrology, cults, sexual promiscuity, drugs, crime, and consumer debt to political mistrust, the death of duty, the triumph of feeling over thinking, and the delights of pleasure and guilt. He traces the demise of the church, the nuclear family, and academic standards, and in a grand synthesis reveals the startling impact of ’70s culture on America today.
Highlights of Frum’s penetrating analysis:
The closing chapter snaps us to attention: “The stability of mid-century was the product of special and in some ways un-American circumstances: war and mobilization for war, the heyday of heavy industry, a depression that convinced normally individualistic Americans to submit to unprecedented direction and regimentation. A carapace of control had been locked upon the country as an emergency measure. But as the emergency dragged on for decade after decade, the carapace chafed and abraded. In the 1970s, the country at last burst through it. Americans did not pause to distinguish between obsolete and unnecessary restrictions and good and wise ones. They smashed them all.”
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