Student Question

Why is chapter 28 in The American Yawp, vol. 2 titled "The Unraveling" and what changes in 1970s America represent this idea?

Expert Answers

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Chapter 28 of The American Yawp is titled "The Unraveling" because it focuses on the upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s, including the Vietnam war, the changes in American culture, the crisis of 1968, the scandal surrounding Richard Nixon, and the struggles of industrial America. Let's look at some of these upheavals that helped to unravel various strands of American society.

As you craft your answer to this question, you might talk about the Vietnam War, which, as the text says, contributed immensely to "public disillusionment" as Americans watched it play out on their televisions screens each day. Protests were rampant as the government failed to pursue the war properly and Americans died. The whole situation was unraveling.

You might also talk about the challenges American culture faced in terms of race, social upheaval, and changing morality. The text notes the anxieties of the day and discusses the riots that broke out throughout the country in the mid to late sixties. The year 1968 was a particular crisis point with the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the continuing rise of violent protests. Society seemed to be coming apart at the seams.

The scandal over president Richard Nixon did not help the situation either, and you should speak of the toll Nixon's actions took on the country, especially with regard to Watergate and the following cover-up, which led to Nixon's resignation.

Finally, you should mention the difficulties in America's industrial sector that led to significant economic hardship. The text provides plenty of statistics to show the drop in industry that led to the unraveling of the lives of many Americans who suffered great economic stress as a result.

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