Strange Days Indeed: The Golden Age of Paranoia

Francis Wheen

Strange Days Indeed, by Francis Wheen.

The nostalgic whiff of the seventies evokes memories of loons and disco, Abba and Fawlty Towers. However, beneath the long hair it was really a theme park of mass paranoia.

Strange Days Indeed tells the story of the decade that a young Francis Wheen walked into having pronounced he was dropping out to join the alternative society. Instead of the optimistic dreams of the sixties he found a world on the verge of a collective nervous breakdown, huddled over candles waiting for the next terrorist bomb, kidnapping or food shortage warning. Whether it was Nixon’s demented behaviour in the White House, Harold Wilson’s insistence that ‘they’ (whoever ‘they’ were) were out to get him, or the trial of Rupert Bear, it is a story almost too fantastical to be true. With his brilliantly acute sense of the absurd Francis Wheen slices through the pungent melange of mistrust and conspiratorial fever to expose the sickly form of a decade in which nations were brought to a sclerotic halt by power cuts, military coups, economic anarchy and the arrival of Uri Geller.

Since the Great Crash of our generation barely a week passes without some allusion to that distant decade. As we are consumed by the heady stench of our own collective meltdown, there is no better guide than Francis Wheen to shine his Swiftian light on the true nature of the era that has returned to haunt us. Amidst the chaos Strange Days Indeed is an hilarious and jaw-droppingly revealing chronicle of the golden age of the paranoid style.

Reviews of Strange Days Indeed: The Golden Age of Paranoia

    • ‘delightfully unorthodox history..The strangest decade has received the treatment it has long deserved’ Book of The Week Time Out
    • ‘This gallery of grotesques is great fun’ TLS
    • ‘fascinating, wonderfully funny and curiously terrifying’ Waterstones Books Quarterly
    • ‘wonderfully deadpan and precise writer’ The Scotsman
    • ‘Wheen expertly controls the reins, pacing the narrative just right so there is always the desire to be led further into the maze of ’70’s madness. Wheen is surely our most eminent satirical writer, and I just hope that he is looking at our present decade through the same lens, and is just as busy getting that book ready’ Tribune
    • ‘Wheen’s view of the Seventies in Britain is unrelentingly grim’ The Spectator
    • ‘hugely entertaining…Wheen has a tremendous sense of the absurd’ Independent on Sunday
    • ‘What makes this book such an outrageously funny, entertaining read is the stream of anecdotes, from the Oz obscenity trial to the mercenary coup plotters who fly into the Seychelles posing as rugby-playing members of the fictitious Ancient Order of Froth Blowers, their weapons hidden in their luggage under piles of toys ‘for disabled children’. Not even the most outrageous novelist could make this kind of stuff up, but perhaps only a writer of Francis Wheen’s skill and touch could turn it into a book as glorious, memorable and laugh-out-loud hilarious as this.’ Literary Review
    • ‘Wheen’s high-octaine, rollicking and impressionistic survey’ Mail on Sunday
    • ‘First review of Francis Wheen’s brilliant Strange Days Indeed ran at the weekend:’Wheen couldn’t write a dull book if he tried…And while not even he could make the 1970s likeable, few could make the crimes, follies and misfortunes of that wretched decade so entertaining’ Christopher Hart, Sunday Times.