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Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Sixties and the Making of Eighties…

av Philip Jenkins

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922217,776 (3.42)Ingen/inga
Why did the youthful optimism and openness of the sixties give way to Ronald Reagan and the spirit of conservative reaction--a spirit that remains ascendant today? Drawing on a wide array of sources--including tabloid journalism, popular fiction, movies, and television shows--Philip Jenkins argues that a remarkable confluence of panics, scares, and a few genuine threats created a climate of fear that led to the conservative reaction. He identifies 1975 to 1986 as the watershed years. During this time, he says, there was a sharp increase in perceived threats to our security at home and abroad. At home, America seemed to be threatened by monstrous criminals--serial killers, child abusers, Satanic cults, and predatory drug dealers, to name just a few. On the international scene, we were confronted by the Soviet Union and its evil empire, by OPEC with its stranglehold on global oil, by the Ayatollahs who made hostages of our diplomats in Iran. Increasingly, these dangers began to be described in terms of moral evil. Rejecting the radicalism of the '60s, which many saw as the source of the crisis, Americans adopted a more pessimistic interpretation of human behavior, which harked back to much older themes in American culture. This simpler but darker vision ultimately brought us Ronald Reagan and the ascendancy of the political Right, which more than two decades later shows no sign of loosening its grip. Writing in his usual crisp and witty prose, Jenkins offers a truly original and persuasive account of a period that continues to fascinate the American public. It is bound to captivate anyone who lived through this period, as well as all those who want to understand the forces that transformed--and continue to define--the American political landscape.… (mer)

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This book was clearly written, and well researched. It was occasionally witty, but what I appreciated most about it was the journalist's independence, where Jenkins states what people on the left were saying, and what people on the right were saying, without judging either, even though he might state an agreement with one and a disagreement with another point of view. His coverage of the paranoia around everything that could befall children, and how the affect on children colored so many scares from child abuse, to drugs, to pornography, to tobacco, was insightful. It's something that everyone who lived through this period in America will recognize, but might not have put into the same patter Jenkins demonstrates.

A well constructed gloss of the history, with occasional nods to artistic and literary trends. ( )
  jordanjones | Feb 21, 2020 |
Where have all the hippies gone? I used to wonder that back before I encountered Jesus People USA and the Northwest Folklife festival. It seemed a bit odd that Woodstock gave way to Rambo. Did the children of the sixties sell out? Well, Professor Jenkins has a pretty good take on the question. He shows how the America of Ronald Reagan was a logical outgrowth of the America of Lyndon Johnson. It was an interesting read. I lived through the era, but in sheltered suburbia, I was oblivious to a lot of what went on. Ones ideals always need to be tempered or possibly even changed by real life, and sometimes you're hardly even aware that it's going on. After reading Decade, I can see how folks ended up voting for Reagan in 1980 and 1984. I still wouldn't do it myself, mind you, but I can understand how some might.
--J. ( )
  Hamburgerclan | Aug 30, 2014 |
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Why did the youthful optimism and openness of the sixties give way to Ronald Reagan and the spirit of conservative reaction--a spirit that remains ascendant today? Drawing on a wide array of sources--including tabloid journalism, popular fiction, movies, and television shows--Philip Jenkins argues that a remarkable confluence of panics, scares, and a few genuine threats created a climate of fear that led to the conservative reaction. He identifies 1975 to 1986 as the watershed years. During this time, he says, there was a sharp increase in perceived threats to our security at home and abroad. At home, America seemed to be threatened by monstrous criminals--serial killers, child abusers, Satanic cults, and predatory drug dealers, to name just a few. On the international scene, we were confronted by the Soviet Union and its evil empire, by OPEC with its stranglehold on global oil, by the Ayatollahs who made hostages of our diplomats in Iran. Increasingly, these dangers began to be described in terms of moral evil. Rejecting the radicalism of the '60s, which many saw as the source of the crisis, Americans adopted a more pessimistic interpretation of human behavior, which harked back to much older themes in American culture. This simpler but darker vision ultimately brought us Ronald Reagan and the ascendancy of the political Right, which more than two decades later shows no sign of loosening its grip. Writing in his usual crisp and witty prose, Jenkins offers a truly original and persuasive account of a period that continues to fascinate the American public. It is bound to captivate anyone who lived through this period, as well as all those who want to understand the forces that transformed--and continue to define--the American political landscape.

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