Stayin' Alive

Stayin' Alive

The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class

By Jefferson R. Cowie

New Press, Paperback, 9781595587077, 464pp.

Publication Date: January 3, 2012


Winner of the Society of American Historians’ 2011 Francis Parkman Prize

A wide-ranging cultural and political history that will forever redefine a misunderstood decade, Stayin’ Alive is a remarkable account of how working-class America hit the rocks in the political and economic upheavals of the 1970s. In this edgy and incisive bookpart political intrigue, part labor history, with large doses of American music, film, and TV lore&mdashCowie, with an ear for the power and poetry of vernacular speech” (Cleveland Plain Dealer), reveals America’s fascinating and little-understood path from the rising incomes and optimism of the New Deal to the widening economic inequalities and dampened expectations of the present.

Hailed by Rick Perlstein in The Nation as one [of] our most commanding interpreters of recent American experience,” prizewinning labor historian Jefferson Cowie takes us from the factory floors of Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Detroit to the Washington of Nixon, Ford, and Carter, connecting politics and culture, and showing how the big screen and the jukebox can help us understand how America turned away from the radicalism of the 1960s and toward the patriotic promise of Ronald Reagan.

Published to great acclaim in hardcover, Stayin’ Alive captures nothing less than the defining characteristics of a new eraa history with profound relevance for our own times.

About the Author
Cowie teaches labor history at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University.

Praise For Stayin' Alive

In near epic proportions, Cowie covers . . . the demise of the mythic American working class. A must read.

Might be the most groundbreaking and original national history of a working class since
E. P. Thompson’s Making of the English Working Class.
New Politics

[C]aptures the contradictory nature of 1970s politics better than almost any other [book] ever written about the period.

[A] fun read with cultural insight that makes connections I hadn’t, from Saturday Night Fever to Dog Day Afternoon, Bruce Springsteen to Devo.