December 22nd, 2009
03:55 PM ET

Five turning points of the decade

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/11/06/obama.transition2/art.obama.gi.jpg caption="The election in 2008 of an African-American to the presidency in a country whose economy once revolved around slavery was historic."]

Julian Zelizer
Special to CNN

The first decade of the 21st century in the United States was defined by terrorism, crisis and uncertainty. The exuberance of the 1990s, with its strong economic growth and the sense of American military omnipotence, came to an end.

Most Americans have been left reeling from nine very difficult years, even though the decade neared its close with a presidential election that spoke to the promise and potential of the nation.

We must remember that any "most important" list should be seen as the beginning of a conversation, not a definitive judgment.

Historians learn that it is extraordinarily difficult to discern exactly which events will be transitory and which will have the most long-lasting effects.

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Filed under: Julian E. Zelizer
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    And don't forget, false propaganda.

    December 22, 2009 at 2:23 pm |