The 1970s were a theme park of mass paranoia. Strange Days Indeed tells the story of the decade when a distinctive paranoid style emerged and seemed to infect all areas of both private and public life, from high politics to pop culture. The sense of paranoia that had long fuelled the conspiracy theories of fringe political groups then somehow became the norm for millions of ordinary people. And to make it even trickier, a certain amount of that paranoia was justified. Watergate showed that the governments really were doing illegal things and then trying to cover them up. Though Nixon may have been foremost among deluded world leaders he wasnt the only one swept up in the tide of late night terrors. UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson was convinced that the security services were plotting his overthrow, while many of them were convinced he was a Soviet agent. Idi Amin and his alleged cannibalism, the CIAs role in the Chilean coup, the Jonestown cult, the Indian state of emergency from 75 to 77 and more are here turned into a delicious carnival of the derangedand an eye-opening take on an oft-derided decadeby a brilliant writer with an acute sense of the absurd.
Francis Wheen is deputy editor of "Private Eye" and the editor of "Lord Gnome's Literary Companion," the author of the bestselling "How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World" and "Karl Marx: A Life," and a former columnist in the "London Guardian." He has contributed to "Vanity Fair," the "Nation," the "New Yorker," "LA Times," and "Washington Post," and has appeared on C-SPAN's "Booknotes" and National Public Radio.