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The Way We Never Were

American Families and the Nostalgia Trap
Narrated by: Suzanne Toren
Length: 17 hrs and 49 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"Often brilliant and invariably provocative." (New York Times Book Review)

Leave It to Beaver was not a documentary, a man's home has never been his castle, the 'male breadwinner marriage' is the least traditional family in history, and rape and sexual assault were far higher in the 1970s than they are today. In The Way We Never Were, acclaimed historian Stephanie Coontz provides a myth-shattering examination of two centuries of the American family, sweeping away misconceptions about the past that cloud current debates about domestic life. The 1950s do not present a workable model of how to conduct our personal lives today, Coontz argues, and neither does any other era from our cultural past. This revised edition includes a new introduction and epilogue, looking at what has and has not changed since the original publication in 1992, and exploring how the clash between growing gender equality and rising economic inequality is reshaping family life, marriage, and male-female relationships in our modern era.

Now more relevant than ever, The Way We Never Were continues to be a potent corrective to dangerous nostalgia for an American tradition that never really existed.

©1992, 2016 Stephanie Coontz (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"A wonderfully perceptive, myth-debunking report.... An important contribution to the current debate on family values." (Publishers Weekly)

"Historically rich, and loaded with anecdotal evidence, The Way We Never Were effectively demolishes the normal, traditional nuclear family as neither normal nor traditional, and not even nuclear." (Nation)

"Coontz's strength is in the way she shows that families of every era have been blamed for conditions beyond their control." (San Francisco Chronicle)

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