June 29, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

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

Current Status
In Season
Bruce J. Schulman
We gave it a B+

In retrospect, Schulman concedes, the ’70s can look pretty dismal — ”an era of bad clothes, bad hair, and bad music impossible to take seriously.” He sees the post-Watergate years as a fascinating period during which Americans fled from a common public culture into private space, ethnic identity, intensely personal religions, and regional self-assertion — especially in the Sun Belt, which came to dominate American politics (a new tax-resisting, flag-waving conservatism) and culture (country music, evangelical religion). Schulman, a professor at Boston University, fudges it a little by pushing the ’70s into the ’80s reign of Reagan, and he brushes past the sexual revolution and relevant developments in other fields at a remove from pop culture and politics. But he does succeed in making the decade of the mullet, the pet rock, and disco look like less of a forgettable mess.

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