The 1980s Image of a Decade

Henry Carroll

Nostalgia has never felt so current. As younger generations turn to past decades for inspiration and clues to help them navigate the cultural labyrinth of social media, this book will allow readers to discover the 1980s afresh and in all its facets, from design trends and art styles to iconic photos, looks, and even hairstyles.

The 1980s were a time of bold exploration, dazzling creativity, inspiring unity—and stark division. Technology, media, gender roles, race, sexuality, geopolitics, climate, our place in the universe. You name it: the 1980s saw almost all aspects of humanity challenged, upturned, and reimagined. From partying to parting, travel back in time to the tipping point of recent history with this era-defining book: the ultimate cultural mixtape. Skip forward from the first space shuttle to the first episode of The Simpsons, from Jean-Michel Basquiat to Gordon Gekko, or from shoulder pads to smiley faces. This immersive visual narrative tells the story of the 1980s through all its recurring motifs, trends, and themes, from lush tropicana to neo-noir dystopia.

Start with the innocence of breakdancing and boom boxes on the subway, the beeps and bloops of the new electronic game consoles, and Jane Fonda's pastel leotards and legwarmers. Move on to the savage materialism of the wolves of Wall Street, the synchronized moves of the zombies in the Thriller video, and tailored Armani suits. Witness the rise of a new and assertive gay culture and explore the darker corners of the club scene. Remember the silent rise of the AIDS epidemic, the explosion of the Live Aid concerts, and the fight against apartheid. Listen to the reverberation of cultural decibels rising across the globe until all the walls start to break down, from Madrid's La Movida to the Soviet perestroika and the fall of the Berlin Wall.


Henry Carroll


Henry Carroll is an author, editor, and screenwriter with an MFA from the Royal College of Art, London. His bestselling Read This if You Want to Take Great Photographs series has sold over one million copies across 22 languages. He is also the author of Photographers on Photography. Originally from London, Henry now lives in Los Angeles.