Originally published 08/08/2013
John Lancaster is a British journalist.There are years whose impact on human history is apparent to everyone at the time—1776, say, or 1945, or 2001—and then there are years whose significance seems to grow in retrospect, as it becomes clear that the consequences of certain events are still being felt decades later. Everyone who was an adult in 1989 knew straight away that the fall of the Berlin Wall was a momentous event. What, though, if those events were contingent on things that had happened in another, even more momentous year? Christian Caryl’s book “Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century” (Basic) asks the question, What if the really important year in recent history was 1979?