A concise and accessible account of the era written with an eye toward engaging the student and general listener.
Blessed by a booming economy, the United States experienced the benefits of technology in the 1950s, with television and the automobile transforming the way people lived, and the space race offering new challenges. At the same time, the nation faced domestic divisions and international crises that would have far-reaching historical and political consequences.
The 1950s evoke images of prosperity, suburbia, a smiling President Eisenhower, cars with elaborate tail fins, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, and the "golden age" of television - seemingly a simpler time in which the idealized family life of situation comedies had at least some basis in reality. A closer examination, however, recalls more threatening images: the hysteria of McCarthyism, the shadow of the atomic bomb, war in Korea, the Soviet threat manifested in the launch of Sputnik and the bombast of Nikita Khrushchev, and a clash over the integration of public buses in Montgomery, Alabama, and a high school in Little Rock, Arkansas. Andrew J. Dunar successfully shows how the issues confronting America in the late twentieth century have roots in the fifties, some apparent at the time, others only in retrospect: civil rights, environmentalism, the counterculture, and "movements" on behalf of women, Latinos, and Native Americans.
The rise of the "beats", the continuing development of jazz, the emergence of rock 'n' roll, and the art of Jackson Pollock reveal the decade to be less conformist than commonly portrayed. While the cold war rivalry with the Soviet Union generated the most concern, Dunar skillfully illustrates how the rise of Nasser in Egypt, Castro in Cuba, and Communist regimes in North Korea, Vietnam, and China signaled new regional challenges to American power.
This book will be ideal for instructors of American history survey courses at the high school and undergraduate levels.
The book is published by Syracuse University Press.
©2005 Syracuse University Press (P)2013 Redwood Audiobooks
"America in the Fifties succeeds in capturing the hopes, promise and temperament of an era. Chapters cover a range of topic, from the influence of business and economic growth and changes to political figures who made a lasting impact on American society." (The Midwest Book Review)
Elderly, bookish person, omnivorous reader, only bothers to review books she considered worth reading.
I would not consider the audio edition of America in the Fifties to be better than the print version with this narrator reading in the unprepared way he reads now. Kindle's robo-narrator would probably have done it better.
This book would compare favorably to any well-done and accurate Cliff Notes edition of any quality overview of history. It clearly describes events and famous people of the time and explains the significance of political, societal, and cultural matters that characterized the 50s. The book was intended as a meaningful synopsis of the decade and does succeed in recreating the time without going into overwhelming detail.
Mr. Vincent reads as if he was ordered to get through the book quickly as possible, skipping any preparation and sight reading off the cuff, without taking time to look over the script before hand, research pronunciations of unfamiliar terms and names, or receive any guidance by the producer. Two very trying examples of pronunciation refuse to escape my memory: He said Harold STAY-son instead of Harold STASS-en when there is clearly a double S after the A which any competent reader should know makes the A short. There were several such mispronunciations of less obviously spelled names convincing this reader that he's too young to remember the time, which makes the failure to prepare for the job more annoying. Having heard all those familiar names pronounced many times on news broadcasts at the time, I cringed every time he blooped, but was able to mentally fill in the correct pronunciations and not lose meaning. Also he mispronounced common words that any professional reader should be able to handle. For instance: consenshus objecter instead of conscientious objector. On the positive side, this man has a very pleasant voice and mostly clear pronunciation. He should be given a chance to read up to his potential by good preparation and perhaps some guidance beforehand or else a good audio editor to splice in corrections. At this point, his narration was about what one would expect from an unusually well-spoken high school senior football player who is unusually intelligent and has had some successes in school plays on the off season. My other complaint is that whoever edited the recording did not leave enough silence between sections, chapters, etc. so that in about the first half of the book, there was no pause between the last word of the previous chapter and the heading of the next one. I often missed the transition for this reason. This is entirely an editing problem and should not be blamed on the reader. I feel this reader needs some more training before tackling reading another Audible book. He would not have graduated from the American School of Broadcasting, let alone a legitimate university communications program with this performance. He has a lot of potential because of his very clear pronunciation and his very pleasant voice and deserves the training to hone his talent. With that and the support of a production manager who CARES enough to guide him through the preparation it takes to read a book on an unfamiliar subject, he could be one of Audible's best readers.
Not a book I wanted to listen to all in one sitting. This is a book to savor and appreciate. As I said, I was there in the 50s. All the names and events sounded familiar. But time has endowed those events with significance not obvious at that time. I was especially interested in the radical changes to ordinary life in America brought about by the highway system built in the 50s and read that section several times. The same for the Civil Rights struggle of which I was, believe it or not, totally oblivious until the 60s.
I wish this same book could be redone using the same narrator, but with the narrator having gone through the preparation for the flawless performance that the book deserves.
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