Staying Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class
An epic account of how working class America hit the rocks in the political and economic upheavals of the 1970s, this work is a wide ranging cultural and political history that presents the decade in a whole new light. The author’s work, part political intrigue, part labor history, with large doses of American music, film, and TV lore, makes new sense of the 1970s as a crucial and poorly understood transition from the optimism of New Deal America to the widening economic inequalities and dampened expectations of the present. It takes us from the factory floors of Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Detroit to the Washington of Nixon, Ford, and Carter. The author connects politics to culture, showing how the big screen and the jukebox can help us understand how America turned away from the radicalism of the 1960s and toward the patriotic promise of Ronald Reagan. He makes unexpected connections between the secrets of the Nixon White House and the failings of the George McGovern campaign, between radicalism and the blue collar backlash, and between the earthy twang of Merle Haggard’s country music and the falsetto highs of Saturday Night Fever. He also captures nothing less than the defining characteristics of a new era, and asserts that the 1970s were the last stand of the American working class, a time when the goals of the New Deal finally faded away to make room for Reaganomics and a widening of the gap between classes. This is a book that attempts to define a misunderstood decade.