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The Seventies Unplugged: A Kaleidoscopic Look at a Violent Decade [Kindle Edition]

Gerard Degroot
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

If the 1960s was the decade of peace, love and understanding, the 1970s was the decade of glitter and glam rock. Or was it? Gerard DeGroot peels away the polyester to examine what really happened in a decade that began with the death of Jimi Hendrix and ended with Ronald Reagan in the White House and Margaret Thatcher in 10 Downing Street. Some commentators have written off the Seventies as a period in which nothing happened, yet politically it was a time of great hope. Dictatorial regimes ended in Portugal, Spain, Nicaragua, Rhodesia and Greece. Accord between nations was established at Camp David, Peking, Moscow, Geneva and Brussels. For feminists, environmentalists and homosexuals, the Seventies was the decade of hope. In cultural terms, it brought the Sydney Opera House, Monty Python, Annie Hall, David Hockney and M.A.S.H. The music, with or without ABBA, was simply brilliant. But it was also a time of quite extraordinary violence and as the decade continued, the bloodshed and the hate came to dominate, whether in Jonestown, Belfast, Palestine or Cambodia. And while the violence of nations is a constant throughout history, in the 1970s ordinary people seemed to surrender to violence with frightening ease. As the Sixties chickens came home to roost, the Seventies became an era when dreams died, hope was thwarted, problems long ignored finally exploded, and optimism repeatedly crushed gave way to frustration. Incisive, iconoclastic and hugely entertaining The Seventies Unplugged is popular history at its best.

Product Description


'Gerard DeGroot attempts to debunk popular conceptions of the dormant 1970s. Characterised by cultural change (including the rise of feminism and homosexual rights), ideological innovation and widespread warfare, DeGroot's decade is one of progress and pervasive violence.' --New Statesman

'Readers... are lucky to be in the safe hands of an author who is clear, chatty and not afraid to sum up big developments in short phrases... These say as much as many long academic articles... Wide-ranging, original and engaging' --Sunday Express (4-star review)

'One turns eagerly to Gerard DeGroot's The Seventies Unplugged and its subtitular claim to be a "kaleidoscopic look at a violent decade". In 50 brief, discrete essays, DeGroot flits from Manila to Madrid, from Steve Biko to the Baader-Meinhof gang, in a bid to pin down what he calls this "weird" period... His episodic sketches accrete into a rather more detailed vision of the decade than [Dominic] Sandbrook's. Better still, unlike Sandbrook, DeGroot never grants himself the comforting condescension of 20:20 hindsight. Far from poking fun at the 1970s, he concludes that they were "depressingly like the present - and probably the future"' --Independent on Sunday

Book Description

'We all disappeared,' wrote the Sixties flower child Andrea Adam of her friends who once marched for peace and love. 'Suddenly ... everybody had gone their own way. Suddenly everyone was knee-deep in mortgages and scrabbling for a half-decent job.' For too long, the accepted version of the Seventies has been one constructed by those embittered by the failures of the Sixties. The decade is seen as punishment for the propensity to dream. While we remember the best of the Sixties, we recall the worse of the Seventies. Now, Gerard DeGroot, author of the acclaimed The Sixties Unplugged, turns his incisive and often iconoclastic eye on the 1970s and shows that the reality is somewhat different. Praise for The Sixties Unplugged:'What makes DeGroot's book special, though, is that he adds in so many unfamiliar parts of the story, and has such a wicked eye for damning quotes' Andrew Marr, Mail on Sunday

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1396 KB
  • Print Length: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; Unabridged edition (20 May 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #472,040 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant idea 11 Mar. 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
loved the whole idea of this book - as someone who didn't study modern history at school it was a great way to catch up with all the events I vaguely remember from childhood - each section is so bitesized that you can digest it easily and it doesn't matter if it isn't something you care that much about - you are soon on to the next nugget of information on or about something or somewhere else. finally, how interesting (and possibly sad?) that so much of recent bistory, wars in particular, just repeats itself. old hatreds die so hard and we make the same mistaknse again and again as a civilisation. and all the horrors of today we think are new and terrible seem to have all happened before. great reading for adults, but would also be really useful for students as well.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Turn On, Tune In and Drop Out, Updated 18 Oct. 2010
The author wrote a similar book about the 1960's. This work follows a pattern of quite short, easily-read essays on particular countries and trends, movements, political conflicts etc. for example, we have here the "hardhat" movement of the Nixon era, the Baader-Meinhof gang (Rote Armee Fraktion) and so on. I found the book interesting, though inevitably for me (b. 1956) much was scarcely new.

The author is American and is a professor at St. Andrew's University in Scotland, though he came to the UK only in 1979 and so did not experience the 70's in the UK directly, it seems. I have to say that I found his analysis of the National Front (i.e. the major nationalist party in England at the time) facile and very one-sided. I am not by nature a "joiner" or attender of demonstrations or parties (of any kind: I am not a member of any political organization)), but I do recall going to one ordinary NF meeting, in a pub in Leicester, circa 1975. The people I found there were a mixed bunch of men and women, quite normal and quite unlike the "skinhead" stereotype which the author of this book seems to think an accurate picture of a typical NF member of the period.

I was disappointed to see that very little was said about Eastern or Central europe outside West Germany. There seemed to be nothing at all about the Soviet Union, perhaps because the 1970's there were but part of a 20-year period usually now dubbed the "years of stagnation" or "Brezhnev years" (roughly mid-sixties to mid-eighties"). In the end, I wonder if the author was not too ambitious in tackling such a wide subject as a whole decade in more than a single country.

I did find much of the book a good read.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Sadly for anyone wanting a narrative history of the 1970s DeGroot's is not the place to begin. Rather than a narrative of thematic history of the 70s, DeGroot offers a series of unrelated vignettes on the 1970s, looking at both the macro, i.e. world events such as the war between West Pakistan, East Pakistan and India which eventually led to the creation of Bangladesh and micro history, such as the death of Jimmi Hendrix or the marriage of Mick Jagger. Unfortunately this approach gives a very one sided view of the 1970s. In Concentrating on failures, rather than focusing on the bigger picture DeGroot gives an image of the 1970s as being one of failures, rather than success and goes on to confirm the unsustainable view of the 1970s as being one of increasing political violence and instability.

Of course the 1970s are usually remembered as the decade representing `the morning after the night before', when the chickens of the 1960s such as hippydom and the 1968 revolution(s) come home to roost, with the rise of political violence the `Rote Armee Fraktion' (often known as the `Baader-Meinhof group/gang'), Black September, the Angry Brigade etc. ad passim, ad nauseum, failures in the government-union relationship and bad economic strategy. But can the 1970s be so easily written off as a hang-over from the 1960s or as harbinger of the 1980s?

It is important to remember that many of the failures of the 1970s - the three day week, the `winter of discontent' took place only at the beginning and the end of the 1970s - they are not representative of the whole decade! A decade, as I have argued below, which saw the developments in politics which have been attributed to the 1980s.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A definite plug for this one. 5 Oct. 2010
By GregB
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed the author's similarly conceived book on the 60's, 'The Sixties Unplugged', and I was delighted when I read of its sequel, the present book, and I sent for it immediately. It's nicely organised by topics and sub-topics and Mr.DeGroot gives just enough commentary on each one without getting bogged down in excess detail and analysis but without giving them short shrift, either. I like his rather mordant style and humour with some subjects (Nixon is a gift, of course) and having lived through the period myself, I find myself in broad agreement with most of his observations, which are refreshingly free of any political bias. For people who are too young to have lived their 'life on Mars' in the 70's, this is an ideal way to explore that strange decade. As my reference to Nixon makes clear, it covers a broad international canvas, so it is a welcome addition to the recent spate of books on the Seventies which are almost all UK focused.

Soon the spotlight will be turned on that even stranger decade, the 80's, and I'm already looking forward eagerly to Mr. DeGroot's 'The Eighties Unplugged'.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5.0 out of 5 stars the 1970's often seem like a bland 11 Aug. 2014
By Jon Thompson - Published on
If you have an interest in the recent past, particularly the supposedly crucial 1960's, then you owe it to yourself to read both of Gerard J. De Groot's volumes, "The Sixties Unplugged" and "The Seventies Unplugged".

While we all seem to either remember something significant about the 1960's, hippies and Woodstock not being the least of them, the 1970's often seem like a bland, undefined, uncategorized decade. And yet so many things that are still playing out today happened in the '70's, well worth reading about.

You might look at both books as Acts One and Two of a single colossal cultural drama. It is literally the rise and fall of a revolution, as socially profound as the trauma that was the Second World War.

In short, read both these books. They are all part of the same story.
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