Whether you consult John Adams in 1775 or Desus and Mero two weeks ago, it’s remained an American truism that we have always been a multiple people bound in a single state. On a recent podcast, the two Bronx comedians entertained the possibility of national dissolution. “There’s no way [America…

An obscure foreign policy journal in the summer of 1989 was “outselling everything, even the pornography,” according to a D.C. newsstand operator at the time. With a provocative question atop its cover — “The End of History?” — the summer issue of The National Interest reportedly sold out “virtually overnight”…

Chapter Seven: Postmodern War

“That’s the way it was scheduled,” said President Bush to one of his aides as the nation’s nightly news broadcasts were interrupted, right on cue, by the American bombardment of Baghdad on January 17, 1991. The Gulf War, dubbed “Operation Desert Storm,” was the first war to be literally scheduled…

Chapter Six: The Mother of All Battles

Prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia was vacationing in the United States in the summer of 1990, staying in Washington, D.C. One evening he decided to take in a movie. It was August, still time to catch one of the big summer blockbusters. Despite a few hit stand-alone features, it…

Chapter Five: Agreeing to Disaggregate

While the American political system during the 1990s was hardening into deep, often paralytic dysfunction, it was in fact the remaining agreement in Washington that threatened the stability and cohesion of the country as much as the rancor. It was true that the cultural and racial divides were forming two…

Part Four: Secessions

Reverberations of the 1960s rumbled the culture as the 1990s began. Throughout American education, from elementary school to postsecondary institutions, the wave of cultural and political changes begun in the mid-century were finally becoming encoded in curriculum and instituted in educational policy. Largely gone were the campus building occupations and…

Chapter Three: The Culture War Begins

Complete with its own urban uprising of the sort not seen since the 1960s, the ’90s can be seen as a sort of epilogue to the ’60s, or even an extension of that momentous and tumultuous mid-century decade. The ’90s sees the completion of the great changes initiated in the…

Chapter Two: Dicey in D.C.

Despite having none of the visible tumult that marked the former Soviet sphere after the Cold War, Americans’ relationship to their government and to each other were radically altered in the early decade. Without a mortal enemy at gates, instability and uncertainty were allowed to reign in electoral politics. After…

Matt Pulver

Writer — bylines at Salon, Alternet, McSweeney’s, Flagpole Magazine

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