Cover image for Historical dictionary of the 1970s
Historical dictionary of the 1970s
Olson, James Stuart, 1946-
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
viii, 414 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E839 .H57 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



The 1970s were difficult years for the United States, a time when long-held convictions were challenged and the nation experienced a collective identity crisis. Women and minorities called into question the belief that freedom and equality are the birthright of all Americans. The civil rights movements of the 1970s argued that American history is full of racism and violence against women and people of color. Watergate and related scandals of the Nixon administration damaged the country's faith in politicians and the political system. The Arab oil boycott, the energy crisis, the environmental movement, and years of stagflation raised doubts about the future of the nation's economy, and in the jungles of Vietnam, many Americans began to doubt their ability to protect the world from Communism.

An encyclopedic overview of the era, this book includes entries on the prominent people and significant events, issues and controversies of the decade, and entries on the film, music, and culture of the period. A chronology provides a time line for the events of the 1970s.

Author Notes

JAMES S. OLSON is Distinguished Professor of History and department chair at Sam Houston State University. He is the author of more than 20 books on U.S. and world history, including Historical Dictionary of the 1920s (Greenwood, 1988) and Historical Dictionary of the 1960s (Greenwood, forthcoming 1999).

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

As we move into the new century, retrospective views are becoming common (for example, The ABC-CLIO Companion to the 1960s Counterculture in America [RBB Mr 15 98], The Sixties in America [RBB S 1 99], and other books on previous decades). These two volumes from Greenwood explore a period of dramatic change in the U.S. in the areas of culture, politics, emerging varietal viewpoints, and the economy. Brief alphabetically arranged essays provide information about the prominent people, events, issues, and controversies of the decades, as well as the culture of the era. Groups including women, blacks, Native Americans, and Hispanics, as well as social movements, are well represented. Both volumes offer a spectrum of topics such as entertainment influences (The Beatles, All in the Family, Hair, Sesame Street, The Twilight Zone), events (Detente, Lunar landing, Stonewall Inn riots, Watergate scandal, Woodstock), developments (Birth control pill, Gay power, Indochinese immigrants, Rustbelt, Videocassette recorder), and the people who helped bring about these occurrences and define these years. The reader can learn of the history of the 1960s and 1970s as well as how trends and developments from those decades have continued right up to the 1990s. The essay on the Barbie doll in the 1970s volume is an example, beginning with Barbie's inception in the early 1950s, the influence of the women's movement of the 1970s, the modifications of the 1980s, and the doll's continued success in the 1990s. Some topics, such as the Vietnam War, are treated in both volumes. However, the Vietnam War was a bigger part of the 1960s, and the entry in the 1960s volume is longer and much more detailed. Most entries have copious references to related articles as well as suggested readings at their conclusion. A comprehensive chronology, a selected bibliography arranged by broad topics, and an index complete each book. James S. Olson and his contributors have produced two companion resources that are recommended for high-school, academic, and public libraries. Readable for either the person who lived through or was born after these periods, Historical Dictionary of the 1960s and Historical Dictionary of the 1970s will enlighten, inform, and lead to a clearer assessment of this period of identity shift for the U.S., its people, and its culture.

Choice Review

Like Olson's The Historical Dictionary of the 1960s (1999), this volume has no photos, is alphabetically arranged, and has concise entries on US politics, society, and culture averaging a half page. Sample entries include Wounded Knee, 1972 Olympic Games, Jonestown's mass suicide, Kent State, Patty Hearst, Kissinger, detente, Vietnam, and the Equal Rights Amendment. Watergate gets a surprisingly brief two-thirds of a page, although individual players are cross-referenced. Pop culture (M*A*S*H and Eric Clapton) gets plentiful coverage, but other figures and issues, like Olympian Mark Spitz and euthanasia patient Karen Anne Quinlan, are omitted. Ample bibliographies are provided, mostly page-length, on 21 selected issues. The index could use more cross-references: "oil crisis" lacks an entry, but the topic is finally found under "energy" and "Arab oil boycott of 1973-74"; "Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty" is indexed but without cross-reference from "SALT." Stanley and Eleanor Hochman's The Penguin Dictionary of Contemporary American History: 1945 to the Present (1997) overlaps somewhat, although the Hochmans omit suggested resources or bibliographies. American Decades, 1970-1979, ed. By Victor Bondi (CH, Jun'95), is similar but uses a more thematic approach. Olson has an excellent track record, with five publications listed in Guide to Reference Books (11th ed., CH, Jun'96). Recommended for general readers and lower-division undergraduates. L. B. Harris; University of South Carolina--Lancaster

Table of Contents

Appendix: A
Chronology of the 1970s Selected Bibliography of the 1970s