"The '70s Most Influential Books"
In December 1973, a book by Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn entitled
The Gulag Archipelago appeared in the bookstalls of Paris and exploded into
worldwide consciousness. Containing interviews with more than 200 former
prisoners, the book exposed the brutal network of Soviet forced labor and
prison camps for all the world to see, and three months after it appeared in
Paris, the USSR stripped Solzhenitzyn of his citizenship and deported him.
But Solzhenitzyn, a trained mathematician and Nobel Prize winner who was once
arrested and imprisoned for criticizing Josef Stalin while serving in the
Soviet army in 1945, had already shone a light on one of the world's darkest
places, and no one would ever forget.
While The Gulag Archipelago shook the world's foundations, many less-
weighty, but also influential, works of both fact and fiction impacted the
1970s. Here's a sampling.
* Richard Bach's novella about a seagull's flight and plight, Jonathan
Livingston Seagull, became a spiritual parable about reaching one's goals
* E.M. Foster's Maurice was published sixty years after the manuscript was
begun and a year after the author's death. While dated, it elucidates gay
relationships in early-twentieth-century England (1971).
* Perfectly named Alex Comfort reapplied the principles of popular cooking
books in The Joy of Sex, a groundbreaking sex manual that ushered in a
new era of heterosexuality (1972).
* From cult classic to cultural phenomenon, Anne Rice's Interview with the
Vampire stirred a potent brew of ruminations from a philosophical
* Erica Jong's Fear of Flying explores a post-women's liberation way of
coexisting with the opposite sex, with a raunchy frankness that has both
shocking and somewhat serious tones (1973).
* The first Book-of-the-Month Club main selection written by an African
American since Richard Wright's Native Son in 1940, Toni Morrison's
Song of Solomon follows a young black man's journey of discovery
* The first book in Armistead Maupin's six-volume Tales of the City series
introduced readers to a wondrous tableau of sexually liberated life in San
* An absurdist, outlandish world awaited in Douglas Adams's sci-fi classic,
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979).
- from Book of Days: '70s, Harvey Solomon & Rich Appel (Metro Books, 2009).
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