The Power of the Zoot: Youth Culture and Resistance during World War II / Edition 1

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Overview


Flamboyant zoot suit culture, with its ties to fashion, jazz and swing music, jitterbug and Lindy Hop dancing, unique patterns of speech, and even risqué experimentation with gender and sexuality, captivated the country's youth in the 1940s. The Power of the Zoot is the first book to give national consideration to this famous phenomenon. Providing a new history of youth culture based on rare, in-depth interviews with former zoot-suiters, Luis Alvarez explores race, region, and the politics of culture in urban America during World War II. He argues that Mexican American and African American youths, along with many nisei and white youths, used popular culture to oppose accepted modes of youthful behavior, the dominance of white middle-class norms, and expectations from within their own communities.
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Editorial Reviews

The Morning News

“Diligently charts a culture’s exemplar, the zoot suit, and connects it to modern fashion and music . . . . It is a compelling window into the U.S. in the war years as seen from a much different point of view.”
The Journal Of American History

“Deserves much credit for analyzing youth fashion during the era of swing jazz as a national phenomenon .”
New Mexico Historical Review

“Colorful, entertaining, and frequently enlightening. . . . Alvarez leaves us asking for more.”
H-Urban

“[Alvarez’s] scholarship is now the best and most comprehensive book on Zoot Suit culture, society, and race conflict during World War II.”
Journal Of World History

“The work is admirable wide and deep.”
Left History

“[A] fascinating work of scholarship.”
Winterthur Portfolio: Journal Of American Material Culture

“A solid contribution to the field.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520253018
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 6/2/2008
  • Series: American Crossroads Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Luis Alvarez is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego.
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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments and Dedication
Introduction

PART ONE. DIGNITY DENIED: YOUTH IN THE EARLY WAR YEARS
1. Race and Political Economy
2. Class Politics and Juvenile Delinquency

PART TWO. THE STRUGGLE FOR DIGNITY: ZOOT STYLE DURING WORLD WAR II
3. Zoot Style and Body Politics
4. Zoots, Jazz, and Public Space

PART THREE. VIOLENCE AND NATIONAL BELONGING ON THE HOME FRONT
5. Zoot Violence in Los Angeles
6. Race Riots across the United States
Epilogue: From Zoot Suits to Hip-Hop

Notes
Bibliography
Index

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