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Publisher's Summary

Derided for its conformity and consumerism, 1950s America paid a price in anxiety. Prosperity existed under the shadow of a mushroom cloud. Optimism wore a Bucky Beaver smile that masked worry over threats at home and abroad. But even dread could not quell the revolutionary changes taking place in virtually every form of mainstream music. Music historian James Wierzbicki sheds light on how the Fifties' pervasive moods affected its sounds. Moving across genres established--pop, country, opera--and transfigured--experimental, rock, jazz--Wierzbicki delves into the social dynamics that caused forms to emerge or recede, thrive or fade away. Red scares and white flight, sexual politics and racial tensions, technological progress and demographic upheaval--the influence of each rooted the music of this volatile period to its specific place and time. Yet Wierzbicki also reveals the host of underlying connections linking that most apprehensive of times to our own uneasy present.

The book is published by University of Illinois Press.

"The author successfully demonstrates the impact of social change upon Fifties music in a well-written and engaging way. Recommended." (Library Journal)

"This fascinating book is accessible for students and general readers, even as Wierzbicki offers new insights that will be of interest to specialists as well." (Gayle Sherwood Magee, author of Charles Ives Reconsidered)

"Wierzbicki is to be especially commended for his mastery of many sources and the way he has woven them together." (Michael Broyles, author of Mavericks and Other Traditions in American Music)

©2016 Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (P)2017 Redwood Audiobooks

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