Something Happened

A Political and Cultural Overview of the Seventies

Edward D. Berkowitz

Columbia University Press

Something Happened

Pub Date: November 2007

ISBN: 9780231124959

296 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $32.00£28.00

Pub Date: December 2005

ISBN: 9780231124942

296 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£74.00

Pub Date: December 2005

ISBN: 9780231500517

296 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $31.99£28.00

Something Happened

A Political and Cultural Overview of the Seventies

Edward D. Berkowitz

Columbia University Press

In both the literal and metaphorical senses, it seemed as if 1970s America was running out of gas. The decade not only witnessed long lines at gas stations but a citizenry that had grown weary and disillusioned. High unemployment, runaway inflation, and the energy crisis, caused in part by U.S. dependence on Arab oil, characterized an increasingly bleak economic situation.

As Edward D. Berkowitz demonstrates, the end of the postwar economic boom, Watergate, and defeat in Vietnam led to an unraveling of the national consensus. During the decade, ideas about the United States, how it should be governed, and how its economy should be managed changed dramatically. Berkowitz argues that the postwar faith in sweeping social programs and a global U.S. mission was replaced by a more skeptical attitude about government's ability to positively affect society.

From Woody Allen to Watergate, from the decline of the steel industry to the rise of Bill Gates, and from Saturday Night Fever to the Sunday morning fervor of evangelical preachers, Berkowitz captures the history, tone, and spirit of the seventies. He explores the decade's major political events and movements, including the rise and fall of détente, congressional reform, changes in healthcare policies, and the hostage crisis in Iran. The seventies also gave birth to several social movements and the "rights revolution," in which women, gays and lesbians, and people with disabilities all successfully fought for greater legal and social recognition. At the same time, reaction to these social movements as well as the issue of abortion introduced a new facet into American political life-the rise of powerful, politically conservative religious organizations and activists.

Berkowitz also considers important shifts in American popular culture, recounting the creative renaissance in American film as well as the birth of the Hollywood blockbuster. He discusses how television programs such as All in the Family and Charlie's Angels offered Americans both a reflection of and an escape from the problems gripping the country.
An ambitious study... This will stand as the definitive book on the 1970s for some time to come. Highly recommended. Library Journal
A very unsettling cautionary tale. Erik Himmelsbach, Los Angeles Times
Berkowitz... has boldly attempted to put a troubled decade into proper perspective in this concise and useful summary. Peter Aspden, Financial Times
An interesting look at a tumultuous time. Jules Wagman, Blade
Contrary to popular wisdom, "Something Happened" in the 1970s, and Berkowitz helps us remember what that was and why it still matters. Terry Hartle, Christian Science Monitor
A strong case that the '70s deserve far more attention than they have received. Terry hartle, Orange County Register
Quite a lot happened in the 1970s and this may be the concise, yet definitive account. Sunday Constitution
An essential map for what is perhaps the most misunderstood decade of the twentieth century. Associatedcontent.com
Berkowitz has provided an essential map to what is perhaps the most misunderstood decade of the twentieth century. Eve Lichtgarn, Westside Chronicle
Scholarly, judicious, and readable... Highly recommended. Choice
A concise glimpse of the era... Something Happened one of the better surveys to have appeared about a significant decade. Yanek Mieczkowski, The Journal of American History
Edward Berkowitz offers a highly readable account of a decade that tends to get overlooked. M. J. Heale, History
Introduction
1. Nixon, Watergate, and Presidential Scandal
2. Vietnam and Its Consequences
3. Running Out of Gas: The Economic Downturn and Social Change
4. The Frustrations of Gerald Ford
5. Congress and Domestic Policy in the Age of Gerald Ford
6. Jimmy Carter and the Great American Revival
7. The Rights Revolution
8. The Me Decade and the Turn to the Right
9. The Movies as Cultural Mirror
10. Television and the Reassurance of the Familiar
11. The End of the Seventies
Notes
Selected Bibliography
Acknowledgments
Index

About the Author

Edward D. Berkowitz is professor of history and public policy and public administration at George Washington University. He is the author of eight books and the editor of three collections. During the seventies he served as a staff member of the President's Commission for a National Agenda, helping President Carter plan for a second term that never came to be.