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Da Capo Press

The Eighties: A Reader

The Eighties: A Reader

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The America of the 1980s is often caricatured as a time of yuppie greed and self-absorption. But what was driving that decades rampant pursuit of individual pleasure? What were the cultural forces behind Madonna's "Material Girl" and Oliver Stone's Wall Street? These fascinating essays, collected by historian Gilbert T. Sewall from the major books, journals, news reports, and public addresses of the day, survey the tumultuous social change that engulfed the nation--and explain why we are still feeling the aftershocks today.With contributions by such diverse figures as Chistopher Lasch, Lewis H. Lapham, Eric Bogosian, and Hilton Kramer, The Eighties touches on the hallmarks of the age: celebrity culture and hype, exhibitionism and shamelessness, academic ferment, and the lure of money. Kennedy Fraser on the new trend machine. James Q. Wilson on attitudes toward crime, Shelby Steele on African American angst, Tom Wolfe on art objects as religious totems--this lively reader brings together, for the first time, the voices that defined an era.As Sewall so deftly tells it, the story of the 1980s is not merely one of politics or financial chicanery--although both get their due in the book. The 1980s were an era of disquieting attitudes, fantasies, and dreams. As Americans experienced new forms of social anxiety and spiritual crisis, the debate over what constitutes excellence in the arts and in education touched off the so-called culture wars. All of this is evident in the rise of identity politics as well as in films like The Big Chill and feel-good democratic displays of international activism like Live Aid, in the overnight sensation of cocaine-fueled, star-studded nightclubs like New York City's Limelight, in the flamboyant mood of hit television shows like Dynasty and Dallas, and in the success of The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom's staunch defense of Western tradition.Invigorated conservatism in politics and society was, paradoxically, accompanied by the ascent of a new establishment of "tenured radicals," for whom alternative values and cultural innovation supported lucrative careers. Finally empowered to make the social and political changes they had only dreamed about in earlier decades, these boomers stimulated an acrimonious debate over the nature of the good life and the soul of the nation.With remarkable verve, The Eighties sheds new light on the decade that brought us Ronald Reagan and MTV, a decade that continues to frame some of today's most vexing political, economic, and cultural debates

Author: Gilbert Sewall
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Published: 11/01/1998
Pages: 416
Binding Type: Paperback
Weight: 1.37lbs
Size: 9.04h x 5.98w x 1.05d
ISBN: 9780738200354

About the Author
George T. Sewell is the president of the Center for Education Studies and director of the American Textbook Council in New York City. He is also a senior research associate at Boston University. His articles have appeared in Fortune, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, and he is most recently the author of Religion in the Classroom: What the Textbooks Tell Us.

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