‘Wheen’s trademark blend of voluminous knowledge, ready wit and old-Lefty passion make him a tour guide as eye-opening as companionable.’ Anthony Holden, Daily Telegraph
‘There is no one like Wheen for reminding people who need to be reminded of how stupid they have been…this book is funny, mordant, unforgiving, intelligent and – I think – true’ David Aronovitch, The Times
‘Wheen couldn’t write a dull book if he tried…And while not even he could make the 1970s likeable, few could make the crimes, follies and misfortunes of that wretched decade so entertaining.’ Sunday Times
Strange Days Indeed tells the story of how the paranoia exemplified by Nixon and Wilson became the defining characteristic of western politics and culture in the 1970s. Francis Wheen will vividly evoke the characters, events and atmosphere of an era in which the truth was far stranger than even the most outlandish fiction. In 1971 Richard Nixon installed a sophisticated voice-activated recording system in the White House. Three years later he became the first US president to resign, implicated in the Watergate cover-up by the evidence of his own tapes. But they revealed far more than that. 'Homosexuality, dope, immorality in general -- these are the enemies of strong societies,' he told his aide Bob Haldeman. 'That's why the Communists and the left-wingers are pushing the stuff, they're trying to destroy us!!You know it's a funny thing, every one of the bastards that are out for legalising marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob? What is the matter with them?'
In the spring of 1976, weeks after resigning as the British prime minister, Harold Wilson summoned two young BBC journalists whom he scarcely knew and asked them to investigate MI5's machinations. 'I see myself as a big fat spider in the corner of the room,' he said. 'Sometimes I speak when I'm asleep. You should both listen. Occasionally when we meet I might tell you to go to the Charing Cross Road and kick a blind man standing on the corner. That blind man may tell you something, lead you somewhere.' Strange Days Indeed tells the story of how the paranoia exemplified by Wilson and Nixon became the defining characteristic of western politics and culture in the 1970s -- a decade in which the leader of the British Liberal Party stood trial for conspiracy to murder and the West German chancellor discovered that his personal assistant was an East German agent. Strange Days Indeed will vividly evoke the characters, events and atmosphere of an era in which the truth was far stranger than even the most outlandish fiction.