This is an account of the “current” U.S. events between the years 1968 and 1974. Since the book Jaws was written in 1975, these historical occurrences should serve as a background for what was happening in the years leading up to the book’s publication. These occurrences were no doubt instrumental in Peter Benchley’s writing, as I’m sure they served as a possible inspiration for some of the content in the book, as well as perhaps a metaphor for some of the subject matter. The year 1968 turned out to be a pretty event-filled year. Assassinations were a major part of the year’s events, as Americans saw Martin Luther King Jr., Andy Warhol and Robert Kennedy murdered. The late sixties were filled with political and social unrest, and the U.S. lost one it’s most prolific civil rights leaders, perhaps the most influential pop artist of the twentieth century, and a member of one of the most powerful families in politics all meet their untimely deaths (1968: Timeline).
Military actions were abundant as we were engaged heavily in the Vietnam War. One definite controversial action during 1968 was the request by Joint Chiefs Chairman General Wheeler for President Johnson to send an additional 206,000 soldiers to be sent to Vietnam. The general consensus of the citizens was one of outrage concerning the Vietnam situation. Many protests and rallies were put on including the seizing of five buildings at Columbia University, and a protest at New York University by 200,000 students who refused to go to class to demonstrate their anti-war sentiments. President Johnson’s decision not to seek re-election undoubtedly made many Americans happy. In his public address, President Johnson was quoted as saying “I do not believe I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office, the Presidency of your country” (The History Place Presents the Vietnam War). Other influential events included the launching of Apollo 7 and Apollo 8 by N.A.S.A., and the now famous “black power” salute made by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City during their medal ceremonies for the 200 meter dash (1968: Timeline).
As we move into the year 1969, more political issues arise such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signed by the U.S. and the Soviet Union “which pledged the two nations not to divulge information that would allow additional countries to build nuclear weapons” (History’s Home). The Paris Peace Talks began to discuss the possible end of the Vietnam conflict. In what turned out to be a pivotal moment in his political career,
President Nixon authorizes Operation Menu, the secret B-52 bombings of Cambodia along the Vietnamese borders. The objective of these bombings was to target North Vietnamese supply sanctuaries that were located along those borders. Then, just two months later, the New York Times broke the news of those bombings. This led to President Nixon ordering wiretaps on the telephones of four journalists, along with thirteen government officials to determine the source of the news leak. The Mobilization peace demonstration draws an estimated 250,000 people in Washington for what turned out to be the largest anti-war protest in U.S. history. (The History Place Presents the Vietnam War). Meanwhile, Boeing was busy with the first test flight of the 747, the plane responsible for the age of the jumbo jets. But probably most notable, a little concert in a dairy farm in Bethel, New York was put on to celebrate brotherhood and peace among men. The Woodstock Music and Art Festival, as it was called, drew more than 400,000 people marking a high point in the hippie culture. Not to be forgotten was the step of one man, on a faraway “sea”. The step was Neil Armstrong’s, and the sea was the Sea of Tranquility as the Apollo 11 flight became the first time an...