Reviews - What do customers think about History of the 1980's (20th Century USA)?
Reminding you what happened way back in the 1980s Jan 1, 2004
I recognized Don Johnson from "Miami Vice" and the Cabbage Patch Kids, but I have to admit that I would never have recognized Dr. Robert Jarvick on the cover of "History of the 1980s" if he was not holding the polyurethane heart he invented. Still, I have to think there were three better choices to make as icons for the decade of the 1980s, especially given that the young readers for whom the books in the 20th Century USA series are intended are not going to remember this particular decade as well as the rest of us. After all, the 1980s was the decade of the "Challenger" Disaster, "E.T.," the fall of the Berlin Wall, a Royal Wedding, and a whole lot of Stephen King novels.
Rennay Craats begins with a brief but tantalizing introduction that shows headlines from the decade (e.g., "Carl Lewis Races for Gold," "Chernobyl Disaster," "Live Aid") and then provides a Time Line that starts with Miami become the new home for thousands of Cuban immigrants in 1980 to the fall from grace of baseball star Pete Rose in 1989, all of which are covered in brief articles in the body of the book. Actually, on the second page of the Time Line they have what for me are the two most enduring images of the 1980s: the "Challenger" explosion and the one man standing in front of the tanks on the Avenue of Eternal Peace in Beijing's Tiananmen Square (nobody ever knew his name, but I guarantee you that everybody who saw him remembers this guy with admiration and wonder).
Once again Craats divides the articles into the standard categories of Disasters (the Exxon "Valdez" oil spill and the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens), Entertainment (MTV and CNN, the Brat Back and "The Cosby Show"), Trends (CDs and Rubik's Cube), World Events (Anwar al-Sadat's assassination and famine in Africa), Political Issues (Hostages being released and Reagan being shot), Literature (Judy Blume, Alice Walker and "Neuromancer"), Science & Technology (Sally Ride and Barney Clark), Sports (Baseball strike and Greg LeMond), Society (Vietnam Memorial, ERA, and Sandra Day O'Connor), Economy (Breakup of AT&T), Fashion (workout clothes and denim), Immigration (Mariel boats), Music (Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen), and Foreign Affairs (Free Trade and invasions of Panama and Grenada).
As you look over this list if there are people and events that you have forgotten, then you can see the value of these books for reminding you what you were reading about and talking about at the time. That is why the chief value of these books is in getting beyond the main currents of history covered in the standard textbook to the things that were making headlines and which would have been appealing to young students at the time (i.e., "The Terminator" more than the war between Iran and Iraq). I used this volume to check the history of popular culture that I put together for my online class and I can easily see teachers using it to flesh out a particular decade or to come up with bulletin board displays.