The 1970s: A New Global History from Civil Rights to Economic Inequality

Princeton University Press
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The 1970s looks at an iconic decade when the cultural left and economic right came to the fore in American society and the world at large. While many have seen the 1970s as simply a period of failures epitomized by Watergate, inflation, the oil crisis, global unrest, and disillusionment with military efforts in Vietnam, Thomas Borstelmann creates a new framework for understanding the period and its legacy. He demonstrates how the 1970s increased social inclusiveness and, at the same time, encouraged commitments to the free market and wariness of government. As a result, American culture and much of the rest of the world became more--and less--equal.

Borstelmann explores how the 1970s forged the contours of contemporary America. Military, political, and economic crises undercut citizens' confidence in government. Free market enthusiasm led to lower taxes, a volunteer army, individual 401(k) retirement plans, free agency in sports, deregulated airlines, and expansions in gambling and pornography. At the same time, the movement for civil rights grew, promoting changes for women, gays, immigrants, and the disabled. And developments were not limited to the United States. Many countries gave up colonial and racial hierarchies to develop a new formal commitment to human rights, while economic deregulation spread to other parts of the world, from Chile and the United Kingdom to China.


Placing a tempestuous political culture within a global perspective, The 1970s shows that the decade wrought irrevocable transformations upon American society and the broader world that continue to resonate today.

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About the author

Thomas ("Tim") Borstelmann is the Elwood N. and Katherine Thompson Distinguished Professor of Modern World History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Oct 31, 2011
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Pages
416
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ISBN
9781400839704
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Modern / 20th Century
History / Social History
History / United States / 20th Century
Political Science / Civil Rights
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Includes more than two hundred documents from the late nineteenth century to today
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Features documents from outside the United States, illustrating how people in other countries viewed America’s role in the world

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After World War II the United States faced two preeminent challenges: how to administer its responsibilities abroad as the world's strongest power, and how to manage the rising movement at home for racial justice and civil rights. The effort to contain the growing influence of the Soviet Union resulted in the Cold War, a conflict that emphasized the American commitment to freedom. The absence of that freedom for nonwhite American citizens confronted the nation's leaders with an embarrassing contradiction.

Racial discrimination after 1945 was a foreign as well as a domestic problem. World War II opened the door to both the U.S. civil rights movement and the struggle of Asians and Africans abroad for independence from colonial rule. America's closest allies against the Soviet Union, however, were colonial powers whose interests had to be balanced against those of the emerging independent Third World in a multiracial, anticommunist alliance. At the same time, U.S. racial reform was essential to preserve the domestic consensus needed to sustain the Cold War struggle.

The Cold War and the Color Line is the first comprehensive examination of how the Cold War intersected with the final destruction of global white supremacy. Thomas Borstelmann pays close attention to the two Souths--Southern Africa and the American South--as the primary sites of white authority's last stand. He reveals America's efforts to contain the racial polarization that threatened to unravel the anticommunist western alliance. In so doing, he recasts the history of American race relations in its true international context, one that is meaningful and relevant for our own era of globalization.



Table of Contents:

Preface

Prologue

1. Race and Foreign Relations before 1945
2. Jim Crow's Coming Out
3. The Last Hurrah of the Old Color Line
4. Revolutions in the American South and Southern Africa
5. The Perilous Path to Equality
6. The End of the Cold War and White Supremacy

Epilogue

Notes
Archives and Manuscript Collections
Index



Reviews of this book:
In rich, informing detail enlivened with telling anecdote, Cornell historian Borstelmann unites under one umbrella two commonly separated strains of the U.S. post-WWII experience: our domestic political and cultural history, where the Civil Rights movement holds center stage, and our foreign policy, where the Cold War looms largest...No history could be more timely or more cogent. This densely detailed book, wide ranging in its sources, contains lessons that could play a vital role in reshaping American foreign and domestic policy.
--Publishers Weekly

Reviews of this book:
[Borstelmann traces] the constellation of racial challenges each administration faced (focusing particularly on African affairs abroad and African American civil rights at home), rather than highlighting the crises that made headlines...By avoiding the crutch of "turning points" for storytelling convenience, he makes a convincing case that no single event can be untied from a constantly thickening web of connections among civil rights, American foreign policy, and world affairs.
--Jesse Berrett, Village Voice

Reviews of this book:
Borstelmann...analyzes the history of white supremacy in relation to the history of the Cold War, with particular emphasis on both African Americans and Africa. In a book that makes a good supplement to Mary Dudziak's Cold War Civil Rights, he dissects the history of U.S. domestic race relations and foreign relations over the past half-century...This book provides new insights into the dynamics of American foreign policy and international affairs and will undoubtedly be a useful and welcome addition to the literature on U.S. foreign policy and race relations. Recommended.
--Edward G. McCormack, Library Journal
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