Henry M. J. Tonks in Public Books:
The 1970s and 1980s are usually seen as the transformative era of recent American political history. And if the 1970s saw a “great shift” in US politics—with defeat in Vietnam, oil crises, industries in decline, and liberalism unraveling—then Americans woke up in 1981 to the bright morning of a new free-market consensus. The 1990s, by contrast, are typically construed as an historical ellipsis between that era of sanguine prosperity and the upheaval of the 2000s. The ’90s were a moment of tranquility. Cold War won, business booming, history at an end.
Nothing could be further from the truth. New scholarship indicates that the end of the Cold War did not so much settle history’s debates as it did undermine the structuring framework of American politics.