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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
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)...
Published on 18 Oct 2010 by Ian Millard

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Vignette format leads to misleading history of 1970s
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...
Published on 24 May 2011 by J Whitgift


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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Vignette format leads to misleading history of 1970s, 24 May 2011
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. Therefore to take the view that the 1970s were a period of depression and failure would be akin to viewing the history of British policing in the 1970s through the lens of `Life on Mars'! Unfortunately by taking a view of the 1970s based on vignettes/ micro history (rather than a broader brush approach) we end up with a very skewed version of the 1970s.

The argument is that unemployment in the 1970s was far lower than it was in the 1970s and that many of the policies attributed to Thatcher actually found their development in the 1970s, under the Labour Government and under the auspices of the IMF loan. There is also the argument that the 1970s were no more or less violent than any other decade - there had been a long tradition of political violence in mainland Europe in the post-war era, it was not simply a result of the 1970s. The fact is that political violence became more fashionable as the liberties gained in the 1960s led to disenchantment in the 1970s and / or for some countries, a coming to term with their recent past. The problem has been, however, that in political discourse, the 1970s has been seen as a failure, partly because of Thatcher's hatred of Edward Heath, partly because the mid-1970s represented a last hurrah for `Old' Labour and the Labour-Union pact. For both groups undermining the 1970s helped build up their own political kudos whilst undermining the gains that had had made, both philosophically and politically during the period.

My other criticism of DeGroot's book is the moralistic tone he takes when dealing with groups such as the Angry Brigade or the Rote Armee Fraktion. The criticism of these groups are far too simplistic and the writing far too biased. Many of these groups came out of the growing disenchantment with the gains of the 1970s as well as with the sense of having to deal with and respond to the actions of their parents and grandparents generation in the 1920s/ 1930s. Or in Northern Ireland where it was an expression of anger against an oppressive Stormont based Unionist government oppressing the Nationalist / Catholic minority. It was never violence for violence sake (unless one looks at the psychotic violence of the Manson `family'), rather they might be viewed as attempts at none-verbal political discourse by idealists, to a world they saw as having lost its ideals. The danger of course with such discourse, is that it ends up ultimately failing because it offers no scope for dialogue and violence only alienates the listener.

For a more unbiased view of the 1970s I would recommend either Alwyn Turner's book `Crisis? What Crisis?: Britain in the 1970s' or Andy Beckett's `When the Lights Went Out: Britain in the Seventies'. (I would also mention Dominic Sandbrook's `State of Emergency', but I have yet to read this book). Whilst continuing to see the 1970s through the lens of the 1980s and 1990s (which saw the 1970s as a basket case failure) they do offer a less jaundiced view of the decade. The major drawback, however, is that these books look at the 1970s from the perspective of the Atlantic Isles (as Diarmaid MaCulloch has described the British / Irish archipelago) rather than the wider world, which is to DeGroot's advantage. However, DeGroot's ultimately fails by allowing the wood to get in the way of the trees.
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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
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Ian Millard - See all my reviews
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant idea, 11 Mar 2012
By 
Chris Miller (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Seventies Unplugged: A Kaleidoscopic Look at a Violent Decade (Paperback)
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 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A definite plug for this one., 5 Oct 2010
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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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The Seventies Unplugged: A Kaleidoscopic Look at a Violent Decade
The Seventies Unplugged: A Kaleidoscopic Look at a Violent Decade by Gerard DeGroot (Paperback - 20 May 2011)
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