Daily Life in the United States, 1920-1940: How Americans Lived Through the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression

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The twenties and thirties witnessed dramatic changes in American life: increasing urbanization, technological innovation, cultural upheaval, and economic disaster. In this fascinating book, the prize-winning historian David E. Kyvig describes everyday life in these decades, when automobiles and home electricity became commonplace, when radio and the movies became broadly popular. The details of work life, domestic life, and leisure activities make engrossing reading and bring the era clearly into focus.

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Editorial Reviews

Walla Walla Union Bulletin
The details of work life, domestic life, and leisure activities make engrossing reading . . . on a level we can all understand.
Atlantic Monthly
Kyvig regularly comes up with illuminating details . . . and new ways of thinking about familiar subjects. . . . This is an unusually satisfying book.
Review Of Higher Education
Kyvig—a respected historian . . . writes in an agreeably lucid style . . . about subjects that should be of immediate interest to all readers.
This enjoyable read brings the period clearly into focus.
University Of Georgia - Ronald E. Butchart
Virtually encyclopedic in its coverage of a vast array of topics, yet it manages to be readable and engaging.
Roger Daniels
David Kyvig’s Daily Life in the United States, 1920–1940 is an excellent social history which examines how 'ordinary people' reacted to the massive changes during what have been called the 'prosperity' and 'depression' decades.
William L. O'Neill
Daily Life in the United States, 1920–1940 is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the origins of contemporary America.
William E. Leuchtenburg
A happy marriage of political and social history.
G. Wesley Johnson
An excellent popular approach to an important subject by a well respected historian.
Washington Post
Kyvig--A Respected Historian...Writes In An Agreeably Lucid Style...About Subjects That Should Be Of Immediate Interest To All Readers...
Atlantic Monthly
Kyvig regularly comes up with illuminating details...and new ways of thinking about familiar subjects.... This is an unusually satisfying book.
Publishers Weekly
What were your grandparents doing in the 1920s and '30s? How did they spend their days and how were they affected by the popular culture? What were their work and domestic lives like? These are the questions Kyvig, a Bancroft Prize winner for Explicit and Authentic Acts and Northern Illinois University history professor, explores probingly in his new study. Kyvig covers everything from the development of the small pick-up truck to the spread of country and western music and shifting practices in religion and health care. He delineates how the mass production of cars changed people's buying habits with the introduction of credit, and how battery-powered radios meant rural folks could share the new mass culture with city dwellers. Kyvig also documents the massive impact-most of it negative-of Prohibition, a sign of the federal government's growing impact on people's lives, an impact greatly heightened by the New Deal. In the midst of his quite lucid and readable analysis, the author also touches on race, gender, class and the differences between rural and urban environments. In sum, Kyvig's book represents a penetrating information-packed portrait of Main Street, USA, during tumultuous times. 53 b&w photos. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Kyvig (Nearby History) hitches us to the rhythms and interests of Americans' work and play for a ride through two decades of social change and political realignment, a time of sometimes surprising resilience in the habits of family and community. This book is a modest revision of the author's well-received Daily Life in the United States, 1920-1939, with a new year added. Instead of focusing on the middle or upper class and on intellectuals alone, Kyvig emphasizes the diversity of experiences. He relies on census data to gauge economic, social, and geographic mobility and makes much of the technological changes afforded by radio and automobile and the spread of movies, which brought Americans together even as race and class divided them. Especially instructive are his case studies of six places-urban and rural-from across America, which show the tenacity of racial, religious, and regional identities. This work lacks the verve of Frederick Lewis Allen's still useful, if somewhat outdated, Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s and Since Yesterday: The 1930s in America, but it stands strong on a bedrock of solid research and clear writing. Highly recommended for any library lacking the original.-Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566635844
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 6/28/2004
  • Pages: 350
  • Sales rank: 576,346
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.61 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

David E. Kyvig is professor of history at Northern Illinois University. He has written a number of books in American history, including Explicit and Authentic Acts, which was awarded the Bancroft Prize. He lives in DeKalb, Illinois.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Circumstances of American Life in 1920
Chapter 2: Automobiles and the Construction of Daily Life
Chapter 3: Electricity and the Conditions of Daily Life
Chapter 4: Radio and the Connecting of Daily Lives
Chapter 5: Cinema and the Extension of Experience
Chapter 6: Carrying on Day by Day: Life's Basics
Chapter 7: Carrying on Year by Year: Making a Life
Chapter 8: Conflict, Crime, and Catastrophe: The Disruptions of Daily Life
Chapter 9: Culture for the Masses: The Standardizing of Daily Life
Chapter 10: Crisis: The Impact of the Great Depression
Chapter 11: Creating the New Deal: A Larger Role for Government in Daily Life
Chapter 12: Continuity and Change: American Communities at the End of the 1930s
For Further Reading

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