cover image 1995: The Year the Future Began

1995: The Year the Future Began

W. Joseph Campbell. Univ. of California, $29.95 (296p) ISBN 978-0-520-27399-3

According to American University professor Campbell, 1995 was an “improbable” year that “effectively marked the close of one century, and the start of another.” Campbell argues that several of the year’s major events would come to define the modern American experience: the births of Netscape, Amazon, and the wiki; the Oklahoma City bombing, which ushered in a “national psychology of fear”; O.J. Simpson’s “Trial of the Century,” notable for introducing DNA testing to the public; the U.S.-brokered peace accords that ended the Bosnian War and revitalized American exceptionalism; and the sexual liaisons between President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Though Campbell’s account of 1995 is far-reaching and inclusive in its analysis, it lacks any hint of a unifying structure. What makes these five events more epoch-defining than any other of 1995—for instance, the House Republicans’ passing of the “Contract with America,” the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, or Clinton’s decision to end trade and investment with Iran—and what makes 1995 more significant than any other year of that decade? Campbell’s book, for all its insight, is hindered by its reluctance to take a larger thematic view of history that would justify 1995 as a truly watershed year rather than simply an eventful one. [em](Jan.) [/em]