Fault lines : a history of the United States since 1974

by Kruse, Kevin Michael, 1972-

Format: Print Book [2019]
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If you were asked when America became polarized, your answer would likely depend on your age: you might say during Barack Obama's presidency, or with the post-9/11 war on terror, or the culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s, or the "Reagan Revolution" and the the rise of the New Right.

For leading historians Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer, it all starts in 1974. In that one year, the nation was rocked by one major event after another: The Watergate crisis and the departure of President Richard Nixon, the first and only U.S. President to resign; the winding down of the Vietnam War and rising doubts about America's military might; the fallout from the OPEC oil embargo that paralyzed America with the greatest energy crisis in its history; and the desegregation busing riots in South Boston that showed a horrified nation that our efforts to end institutional racism were failing.

In the years that followed, the story of our own lifetimes would be written. Longstanding historical fault lines over income inequality, racial division, and a revolution in gender roles and sexual norms would deepen and fuel a polarized political landscape. In Fault Lines, Kruse and Zelizer reveal how the divisions of the present day began almost five decades ago, and how they were widened thanks to profound changes in our political system as well as a fracturing media landscape that was repeatedly transformed with the rise of cable TV, the internet, and social media.

How did the United States become so divided? Fault Lines offers a richly told, wide-angle history view toward an answer.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "This is a book for those who wonder, to quote new wave pioneers, the Talking Heads, "Well, how did I get here?" Kruse (One Nation Under God, 2015) and Zelizer (The Fierce Urgency of Now, 2015) trace the path from Watergate to MAGA, mix together big-picture political history, socioeconomic shifts, and technological transformations, with a leavening of pop culture. They emphasize the cycle of increasing fragmentation that, beginning with the upheavals of the late 1960s and early 1970s, has reinforced America's underlying political, economic, and sociocultural divisions. Politics became ever more polarized, attempts to rebuild national consensus were thwarted (if this book has a villain it's the Supreme Court, which usually pops up to declare such innovations unconstitutional), and increasing economic insecurity and media fragmentation fueled the fire. Their survey constitutes a valuable road map for readers seeking to understand why the U.S. is the way it is and ends with the hopeful message that the wear-and-tear inflicted on the country has inspired new institutions before and may do so again.--Sara Jorgensen Copyright 2019 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Coauthors Kruse (One Nation Under God) and Zelizer (The Fierce Urgency of Now), both Princeton history professors, examine American politics starting in 1974, a watershed year marked by Nixon's resignation, through to the present. The bedrock of the text is a readable, well-paced history that depicts in chronological order major events of the four decades, including the AIDS epidemic, the Iran-Contra affair, the rise of the Tea Party, and the passage of the Affordable Care Act. This provides fodder for an analysis of tactics used, primarily by Republicans, to foment partisanship and division, exploiting preexisting social divides surrounding racial relations, gender roles, income inequality, and immigration that were stoked by political sideshows such as the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings, the impeachment of President Clinton, and the Supreme Court's 5A--4 decision in Bush v. Gore. Kruse and Zelizer also identify other factors accelerating the country's polarization, particularly the transformation in communications brought on by the internet and the growth of ultrapartisan media. They also argue that the tactics employed in win-at-all-costs politics have played an instrumental role in dividing the country. Their analysis is thoughtful and credible, but political partisans who have benefited from the divisive atmosphere will be unconvinced that much of what is covered is actually a problem. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Polarization (Social sciences) -- United States -- History.
Social change -- United States -- History.
Social conflict -- United States -- History.
United States -- History -- 1969-
United States -- Politics and government -- 1945-1989.
United States -- Politics and government -- 1989-
United States -- Social conditions -- 1980-
Publisher New York :[2019]
Edition First edition.
Contributors Zelizer, Julian E., author.
Language English
Description x, 428 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 361-400) and index.
ISBN 9780393088663
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