The summer of ’99

Every generation has its nostalgia. Some of them have their year. For the boomers it’s the summer of ’67. For Bryan Adams it was the summer of ’69. For people born between 1965 and 1980, I will bet the summer of 1999 is that special summer. It was near the end of the long boom of the 1990s, and the United States of America was the hyperpower. We hadn’t gotten mired in wars, and terrorism seemed like a nuisance.

7 thoughts on “The summer of ’99

  1. Although the nineteen-nineties didn’t start off for the United States as well as it ended, the entire decade now seems golden.

    There was the fall of the Soviet Union and the decline of global communism.

    There was the 1991 war against Iraq, which was the country’s first major engagement since the end of the Vietnam War. In splendid fashion it proved the value of the military restructuring and buildup the country had accomplished over the previous fifteen years.

    There was the pickup in U.S. productivity to levels not seen since the early nineteen-sixties, which allowed interest rates to decline without a pickup in inflation. (The nineteen-nineties ought to be thought of as a kind of blessed economic decade for America, like the nineteen-twenties or the nineteen-fifties.)

    Crime began a rapid drop in the mid-nineteen-nineties so that by the end of the decade the homicide rate was at levels not seen since the nineteen-sixties.

    The unemployment rate also dropped to levels not seen since the late nineteen-sixties.

    Federal budget surpluses began to swell the government coffers.

    China was not yet seen as a serious global competitor, which left the U.S. as the sole “hyperpower.”

    For American conservatives, it was a doubly-blessed decade. The entire ten-year span seemed to confirm their every bias. What started with the fall of the Soviet Union and the Persian Gulf War ended with a Democratic president employing conservative policies which led to the kind of economic and cultural renaissance.

    Oh, and it was a great decade for movies as well. Other than the nineteen-seventies, I can’t think of any decade in the last seventy years which has been better for the big screen.

  2. Spring/early summer of 1999 was when the Kosovo war happened which I found pretty scary as a teenager (and which arguably was a milestone for Russia’s alienation from the West), so I find this nostalgia somewhat strange…in truth, the ground for much of the rot we see now was laid in the 1990s.

  3. I love the Adams song. But, it is not about an historical era, it is about the life and growth of an individual. “Those were the best days of my life”.

    The political context of 1969 and 1999 were almost polar opposites though. As you note 1999 was a time of peace, prosperity, and American cultural dominance.

    1969, OTOH, was a different kettle of fish. In retrospect 1968 was the peak year of 1960s chaos — the assassinations of M.L. King and R.F. Kennedy, the race riots following the King assassination, the Chicago Democrat Convention riots, George Wallace, the election of Richard Nixon, the Vietnam War. 1969 was less eventful, but the country’s mood was not much better.

  4. According to Adams himself, “Summer of 69” does not bear an apostrophe. It does not mean the year 1969. It means, er, something else.

  5. ‘Man on the Moon’ occurred in 1969. Walter, how could you forget one of the biggest events of mankind?

  6. “For people born between 1965 and 1980, I will bet the summer of 1999 is that special summer. ”

    Many people older also view the late 1990s fondly. The job market was the best in decades, the country was in no major war and the Soviet Union was gone.

    I was surprised that Hillary never talked about the great economy when Bill was president. She might have won if she talked some about the good economy under him rather than being the champion of multicultural America.

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