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Thursday, 28 February, 2002, 15:22 GMT
Remembering 1972
Volkswagen Beetle
The Beetle: The world's biggest selling car in 1972
As the National Archive in Washington releases unheard tape recordings of President Nixon, BBC News Online looks back at some of the political and cultural landmarks of 1972.

Although he had been president of the United States for three years, 1972 is remembered as the year which defined the Nixon era perhaps more than any other.

Ping Pong diplomacy with China, and the signing of the 1972 Anti Ballistic Missile treaty between the US and the former Soviet Union gave cause for optimism.

President Nixon in China
Nixon's trip to China marked a turning point in relations

Richard Nixon enjoyed widespread popularity.

He won a second term in office by a landslide on the back of high approval ratings for his international and domestic policies.

As 1972 progressed the American public would become increasingly familiar with the name Watergate. The Vietnam War, in which defeat appeared increasingly inevitable, also cast a lengthy shadow over the country.

Pop culture redefined

Despite the gloom, popular culture showed signs of shaking off its late 1960s malaise, and new styles and trends began to emerge.

A Clockwork Orange
Stanley Kubrick withdrew what many considered a masterpiece

On the music front, 1972 saw the Rolling Stones tour the US, while Elton John's Rocket Man, Don McLean's American Pie, Neil Young's Heart of Gold and Al Green's Let's Stay Together were all major hits.

Britain was in the grip of glam rock: T-Rex's Metal Guru and Slade's Mama Weer All Crazee Now both topped the charts.

The first Mr Men children's books appeared in 1972, and the Volkswagen Beetle became the world's biggest selling car.

Fashions of 1972 included bell bottoms, cheesecloth shirts and platform shoes, while women had a choice of mini, midi or maxi skirts.

The Rolling Stones
Mick and Keith hit the road in 1972

In cinema, A Clockwork Orange received its premiere - but was withdrawn a year later by director Stanley Kubrick, who feared that the film might inspire violence similar to that it depicted.

Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather was also released, while Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight starred in the famously creepy adventure/horror epic, Deliverance.

Sport and technology

In the sporting field, American swimmer Mark Spitz won a record seven Olympic Gold medals - but sadly the Munich games were remembered more for a terrorist attack in which 11 Israeli athletes died.

Technological advances of 1972 included the commercial launch of the pocket calculator, an offshoot of the Apollo moon landings programme, and the appearance of "Pong", the first home video game.

Other commercial ventures of 1972 included the launch of Nike running shoes, while Dr Alex Comfort's famous 'The Joy Of Sex' hit bookshelves, going on to sell millions of copies worldwide.

See also:

28 Feb 02 | Americas
Tapes shed light on Nixon era
20 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Flashback: Nixon in China
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