Stayin’ Alive

The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class

Winner of the 2011 Merle Curti award, an epic account that recasts the 1970s as the key turning point in modern U.S. history, from the renowned historian

“History from the bottom up without forgetting the way it all looked from the top.” —Thomas Geoghegan, author of Which Side Are You On? Trying to Be for Labor When It’s Flat on Its Back

Winner, Francis Parkman Prize for the Best Book on American History
Winner, Merle Curti Award for the Best Book in American Social History
Winner, United Association for Labor Education's Best Book Award
Winner, Best Book Prize from Labor History
Finalist, 2011 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize
Finalist, 2011 Sidney Hillman Book Journalism Award

A wide-ranging cultural and political history that will forever redefine a misunderstood decade, Stayin’ Alive is prizewinning historian Jefferson Cowie’s remarkable account of how working-class America hit the rocks in the political and economic upheavals of the 1970s. In this edgy and incisive book—part political intrigue, part labor history, with large doses of American music, film and television lore—Cowie, with “an ear for the power and poetry of vernacular speech” (Cleveland Plain Dealer), reveals America’s fascinating path from rising incomes and optimism of the New Deal to the widening economic inequalities and dampened expectations of the present.


“Will long stand as the finest and most sophisticated portrait of politics and culture in the American 1970s.”
—E.J. Dionne
“Gives the best sense of the way that it felt to live through the decade . . . Cowie’s book captures the contradictory nature of the 1970s politics better than almost any other ever written about the period.”
—Kim Phillips-Fein, Dissent
“Might be the most groundbreaking and original national history of a working class since E.P. Thompson’s Making of the English Working Class
—Steven Colatrella, New Politics

News and Reviews

Huffington Post

Blog by Professor Craig Werner on using Stayin' Alive in his class "Bruce Springsteen's America"

Books by Jefferson Cowie

Capital Moves
RCA’s Seventy-Year Quest for Cheap Labor

Jefferson Cowie

Goodreads Reviews