Blue Sky Dream: A Memoir of America's Fall from Grace

Overview

In Blue Sky Dream: A Memoir of America's Fall from Grace, National Magazine Award-winner David Beers offers a powerful, personal vision of the rise and fall of the American middle class. Here is a dazzling literary chronicle of a family, a people, and a nation: the "blue sky tribe" of ever-optimistic middle-class Americans who believed in something called the American Dream, then woke up one day to discover it was gone. Blue Sky Dream is a book incredibly rich in ideas, in ways of seeing the recent past with ...
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Blue Sky Dream

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Overview

In Blue Sky Dream: A Memoir of America's Fall from Grace, National Magazine Award-winner David Beers offers a powerful, personal vision of the rise and fall of the American middle class. Here is a dazzling literary chronicle of a family, a people, and a nation: the "blue sky tribe" of ever-optimistic middle-class Americans who believed in something called the American Dream, then woke up one day to discover it was gone. Blue Sky Dream is a book incredibly rich in ideas, in ways of seeing the recent past with stunning clarity. David Beers explores issues that define our times - downsizing, middle-class anxiety, the profound anger with government, the sense that something has gone awry with the United States - with such skill, personal immediacy, and compassion that readers will see their own histories in his prose. Blue Sky Dream can rightly be called a communal memoir, because in telling his family's tale - growing tensions and disillusionment in their suburban paradise, a son rejecting his parents' values, one sudden and inexplicable moment of violence - Beers tells the story of his people, the blue sky tribe "who imagined ourselves to be living the inevitable future, and are very surprised today to discover we were but a strange and aberrant moment that is now receding into history."

Beers' powerful memoir recounts his family's world, the world of middle-class suburbia, from Sputnik to the present, and writes of the great institutions--the government, the multinational corporations, the church, the suburban tract home neighborhood--in which his family put their faith, and how that faith was betrayed.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Beers's poignant, eloquent autobiographical memoir of growing up in Silicon Valley during the 1960s is a stunning eulogy for the middle-class American Dream. His father, Hal, a Lockheed engineer and former navy jet pilot, worked on secret projects designing spy satellites. His mother, Terry, a devout, mystical Catholic often at odds with her scientifically minded, Protestant husband, raised four children in their suburban tract home and "assumed the task of making us not merely Catholic, but Irish Catholic.... In inventing an ethnicity for us, she selected only Irish positives, giving us to understand that we were genetically impish and fun-loving." Beers's parents adopted the widespread faith that America's technological superiority would ensure limitless prosperity, but disillusionment set in as Hal grew disenchanted with a corporate culture of compartmentalization. As a muckraking Mother Jones editor, Beers critiqued the military-industrial complex that assured his father's livelihood. His incisive takes on suburbia, the ever-present seductions of television, Reagan's reinvigoration of the Cold War, Clinton's alleged reneging on the "peace dividend" and the downsizing of corporate America make this a memorable document. Beers is now a freelance journalist based in Vancouver. Photos. First serial to New York Times Magazine; film rights sold to Kennedy-Marshall/Paramount; author tour. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Freelance writer Beers offers a memoir of the baby boom generation that takes its place alongside such memoirs as Lawrence Wright's In the New World (Knopf, 1987). Born in the late 1950s, Beers, whose father worked for over 30 years as an engineer for Lockheed, finds his own life and that of his parents a poignant symbol for the course of America during the same period. From his father's career in the aerospace industry, which spanned the boom times of the Cold War and the downsizing of the post-Cold War present, to his mother's deeply rooted Roman Catholic faith, which the author finds himself unable to accept, his use of his own life experiences as a symbol for larger social change works well. The book thus takes its place with the memoirs of Wright and others as an important (and highly readable) social history document of the period. Highly recommended for all types of readers.Scott K. Wright, Univ. of St. Thomas, St. Paul
Kirkus Reviews
Beers's "communal memoir" chronicles not just a family, but an era, an industry and a demographic segment that once represented the best—or worst—America offered, depending on your point of view.

The technocratic "scientific-technological elites" that Eisenhower criticized while excoriating military industrialism became the heroic warriors of Kennedy's New Frontier: white-collar, white male engineers and rocket scientists who flocked from crumbling industrial cities to aerospace communities like Houston, Seattle, and Silicon Valley. Beers's father, Hal, a naval aviator who sacrificed his dream of being a test pilot to become a Lockheed engineer, was among them. He was an organization man whose career "traced perfectly the arc of the Cold War aerospace industry," fueled by Pentagon spending and anticommunist ideology. And his growing disaffection with the corporate bargain is posited, convincingly, as an analog for Americans' discontent with a social contract eroded by downsizing and by stagnating wages. "Blue Sky" is Beers's term for the sunny optimism of his parents' generation, which placed unmitigated faith in progress and corporations; in the safe, managed life of their sterile suburbs; in the forgiving, rather than wrathful, God of his mother's New Catholicism. Beers has a keen eye for the sociocultural derivations of tribal behavior. Deconstructing such diverse phenomena as television in the 1960s and ranch-house design, Beers demonstrates an engaging, free-ranging intellect that savors the humor in absurdity. He's candid about rejecting the parental example (choosing freelancing over corporate security, ironic detachment over Catholicism), and he wrestles frankly with the guilt that his family's prosperity was financed by an industry whose militarism, unknown to the child, is morally repugnant to the adult.

An exceptionally lucid, penetrating examination of the iconography of American middle-class life on the cusp of the space age, when optimism made infinite progress seem not only possible, but inevitable.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385475099
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/1/1996
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.54 (w) x 9.53 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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