Monday, September 19, 2016

the last book I ever read (American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst, excerpt one)

from American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin:

The kidnapping of Patricia Hearst is very much a story of American in the 1970s, not the 1960s. From the vantage point of nearly half a century, the two decades sometimes merge in historical memory as a seamless epoch of idealism and change. Generalizations about eras are necessarily imperfect, of course, but these two decades actually look very different in retrospect. The 1960s were hopeful, the 1970s sour; the 1960s were about success, the 1970s about failure; the 1960s were sporadically violent, the 1970s pervasively violent.

There were assassinations and riots in the 1960s, but the vast majority of protests were peaceful and even, occasionally, successful. After an extraordinary public outpouring from African Americans and their allies, official racial segregation, which had plagued the United States since its inception, faded in the 1960s. Men walked on the moon. The economy boomed. Much of the discontent in the 1960s emerged from a sense of possibility—that blacks and whites could live in harmony, that the Vietnam War could end, that there could be a better future for all. Those hopes, for the most part, were dashed by the 1970s. Ricahrd Nixon became president in 1969 and did not end the war. An oil embargo in 1973 led to gas lines. The economy stagnated. The stock market lost almost half its value between 1973 and 1974. Inflation hit 12 percent a year. Watergate confirmed every cynical expectation about American politics.

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