The Nineties: A Decade
A review of "The Nineties: A Book" by Chuck Klosterman
Penguin Press, 384 pages, 2022
I celebrated my bar mitzvah in Jerusalem on September 1, 1990, as American troops mustered nearby in Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Storm, and I began high school in California one week later. By the end of the decade, in June 1999, I had graduated college, taken the LSAT, and proposed to my wife (she said yes!). Suffice it to say, the nineties, which encapsulated the entirety of my adolescence, were a profoundly eventful and formative period for me.
But it’s rather more difficult to assess exactly how this enigmatic decade fits into the larger symphony of American and world history, and quite how resonant its political, cultural, and economic strains remain some 30 years later.
Were the nineties little more than the “slacker decade,” when (my) Generation X emerged as a force for studied apathy, when high and low art were “about nothing,” and when the world took a well-deserved break from history? Or was the period from 1990-99 instead when the seeds of astonishing global economic growth were sown and nurtured, when technology became a force of its own, for better or for worse, and when triumphant liberal democracies pressed their advantage, triggering a backlash still felt today?