The Times of the Eighties

Now that we have all celebrated and survived Halloween, it’s time to focus on Christmas.  I absolutely love Thanksgiving – hello, a holiday all about eating?!?  Even before October was over, stores had already rolled out the Christmas stuff.  Target and Macy’s already had Christmas decorations out, I’m sure there are more stores, these are only two examples I witnessed myself.  I am never one to overlook turkey day – but I am ready to start my Christmas list!

9781579129330_p0_v2_s260x420I always manage a long list of books on my Christmas wish list.  While at the library a couple of weeks ago I saw the first book I’m going to put on my Christmas list – The Times of the Eighties.  As a chronicle of many of the headlines The New York Times published in the 80s, flipping through the book brought back many memories.  Included with these many headlines are full-color pictures that were also featured in the paper.  There was quite a bit going on internationally during the 80s, and the paper captured it all.

“The cold war ended as the Soviet Empire fell apart.  The Internet came into being.  AIDS, an utterly mysterious disease afflicting mostly young gay men, ravaged an entire generation and created a powerful new movement to advance the political rights of gay people.  Cable television rewrote the script for news and entertainment.  The baby boomers, dubbed the Me Generation by Tom Wolfe in the 1970s, morphed into the acquisitive, high-achieving tribe known as yuppies.”

The book includes cover stories from each of the Times sections: national and international news, business, science, technology, sports, and arts.  I do remember many of the top stories in national and international stories, but it’s interesting to revisit some of these issues.  It seems that the decade was marked by two catastrophic events, one at the beginning, and one at the end.  The beginning of the 80s began with the eruption of Mt St Helens, and ended with the 1989 Loma Prieta – Bay Area earthquake.  Also important near the end of the 80s was the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union.  So much of the 80s gets overlooked historically, as if the fall of communism wasn’t just as important as the other major events of the 20th century.

One thing I found interesting about the book is its inclusion of some of the most important political leaders of the decade, with a highlight on women.  Geraldine Ferraro is someone many women looked up to in the 80s, as the first woman in history to secure any party’s nomination for Vice Presidential candidate.  Margaret Thatcher was once one of the most powerful women in the world, emerging as a world leader years before any other woman would reach such a high political position.  Another important woman in our history, Sandra O’Connor, became the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, and was sworn in 1981.

Along with some of these major headlines and newsmakers are some of the important elements of 80s culture.  Of course there were big 80s pop stars, but there were also great rock bands – The Pretenders, The Clash, and The Police.  One of my favorite sections of the Times is the Book Review, and here writers Alice Walker, S.E. Hinton, and Toni Morrison are included.  A few other cultural icons are featured – the walkman made its debut, was hugely successful and early prototype for the iPod (which many people now cannot live without!).  Also making its debut in the 80s was MTV.  Remember VJs?  Actually, a better question would be, remember when MTV used to play videos?  Of course I’ve heard that question a thousand times it seems, but I do remember the network’s debut, thinking that it was the coolest thing on tv.

This is a great book, a coffee table book you may actually pick up and read.  Hopefully, come Christmas morning, I find it under our tree!!

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