Last Look At The '70s: Epitaph for a Decade

A lost war, a discovery of limits—and good cause for optimism

The decade was erected upon the smoldering wreckage of the '60s. Now and then, someone's shovel blade would strike an unexploded bomb; mostly the air in the '70s was thick with a sense of aftermath, of public passions spent and consciences bewildered. The American gaze turned inward. It distracted itself with diversions trivial or squalid: primal screaming, disaster movies, jogging, disco, Perrier water, pornography. The U.S. lost a President and a war, and not only endured those unique humiliations with grace, but showed...

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