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The Best of Times--the '90s were indeed the best of times. Unprecedented wealth and the breathtaking progress of science and technology ushered in the Internet and the deciphering of the genome. Promises abounded, but a deepening sense of unease hovered over America as the worst of times seemed to be upon us as well-gossip, scandal, and a frenzied media like nothing ever seen before.
Based on exclusive interviews with the decade's most influential players, here is a fascinating re-creation of the best and worst episodes of the decade. With sweeping force and cultural acumen, Johnson revives the '90s, the ups and downs, filled with all that we may have forgotten and, most importantly, all that we never knew. In four fascinating parts, Johnson delivers the stories behind the stories-revealing the personalities behind the media party of the '90s, the partisanship that didn't succeed in bringing down the president, the pervasive technology that stretched from Silicon Valley to Monsanto with the corresponding hopes and fears, and the equally extreme reactions on Wall Street to every last bit of it.
A tremendous work from a major authority and writer, The Best of Times covers the entire wonderful yet woeful decade, gavel to gavel.
Includes interviews with:
Book One: Technotimes
Nathan Myhrvold, chief technology guru (former), Microsoft
David Baltimore, president, Cal Tech University and Nobel Prize winner
Bob Shapiro, chief executive officer, Monsanto
Regis McKenna, entrepreneur
Book Two: Teletimes
Ted Harbert, head of TV programming, DreamWorks SKG
Norman Lear, creator of "All in the Family"
David Geffen, partner, DreamWorks SKG
Michael Bloomberg, head of Bloomberg News
Steven Brill, founder of Brill's Content
Book Three: Scandal Times
Sam Dash, law professor, Georgetown
Senator Alan K. Simpson (former)
Senator Dale Bumpers (former)
Book Four: Millennial Times
Senator Bob Kerrey (former)
Senator John McCain
Dr. Ruth Faden, medical ethicist
In addition, Johnson interviewed leaders of Congress, top White House aides, cabinet members, and prominent political operatives of both parties in gathering material for this history.
A JAMES H. SILBERMAN BOOK
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
In The Best of Times, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Haynes Johnson follows his illuminating, bestselling overview of the Reagan years, Sleepwalking Through History, with a chronicle of America in the '90s, a time he finds both highly consequential and infuriatingly paradoxical.
Johnson divides his ambitious social history of an America at its "zenith" of power and influence into four intertwined sections. "Technotimes" opens with the Kasparov/Big Blue chess match, and quicksteps through the dizzying advances in computer science and bio-technology, including the Human Genome Project, cloning, and genetically modified crops. "Teletimes," easily the strongest and most disturbing section, uses the "scandalous spectacle" of the O.J. Simpson trial to illustrate the inescapable influence of the mass media and the metastasizing cult of celebrity. "Scandal Times" is primarily an extended retelling of the Monica Lewinsky affair and its squandering (in Johnson's eyes) effect on the Clinton presidency, while "Millennial Times," calling on polls and interviews with a crosscut of college students, is a statistical and personal- opinion snapshot of America in full end-of-century stride. Johnson juxtaposes narrative summary with capsule biographies of the famous (Bill Gates) and the obscure (Vannevar Bush and J.C.R. Licklider--visionaries of hypertext, the World Wide Web, and the Internet). Johnson's methodology is commendable. He inserts personal biases lightly (sometimes too tepidly), preferring to present many sides of issues and ask questions rather than opine. One serious weakness is the book's woefully inadequate endnotes.
Though The Best of Times has a tendency to overreach, sometimes scurrying past subjects rather than studying them, it is an informative, worthy, and accessible summary of contemporary American society. Johnson has created a literate time capsule, one whose value will increase greatly with each passing year. --H. O'BillovitchBook Description:
Published in hardcover by Harcourt, 2001, 0-15-100445-5
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