Uncertainty of Everyday Life, 1915-1945

Uncertainty of Everyday Life, 1915-1945

by Harvey Green, David E. Shi
     
 

The Uncertainty of Everyday Life, 1915-1945 is a vivid chronicle of American life between the two world wars that reveals a country expanding in every direction, energetic and optimistic in the 1920s before the shock of the Great Depression and the increasingly uncertain life of the grim 1930s. By 1915 the United States had become an increasingly urban culture, and… See more details below

Overview

The Uncertainty of Everyday Life, 1915-1945 is a vivid chronicle of American life between the two world wars that reveals a country expanding in every direction, energetic and optimistic in the 1920s before the shock of the Great Depression and the increasingly uncertain life of the grim 1930s. By 1915 the United States had become an increasingly urban culture, and the fortunes of the farming population were declining in income and prestige. Racism in the South was on the rise, and many blacks moved North to escape the Ku Klux Klan and its dominance of Southern attitudes. Life became more comfortable for many Americans, but as World War II began only half the population enjoyed the modern conveniences we now take for granted--running water, indoor plumbing, central heating. Consumerism became an active force in national life and, spurred by the new science of advertising, Americans bought cars, radios, and appliances. However, jobs and wages were unpredictable, labor unrest was constant, savings vanished in the stock market, and uncertainty hovered over daily life for many Americans.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this splendid account of our society in this century, Green ( Light of the Home ) traces the minute changes that, as they accumulated, shook the underpinnings of the ``American Way'' of life. He examines the subtle effects of the confusing choices available in the contemporary marketplace (the Model A Ford, by contrast, was available in just one shape and color), and the gradual changes in the labor movement, the work ethic, education, concepts of sex and marriage, the practice of medicine, reading habits, scientific and technological advances, sports and pleasure. Pressed by the plethora of uncertainties these transformations produced, a ``sanitized vision'' of American history ``became a mooring for many Americans,'' yet their idea of the nation as a chosen people in a promised land ``precluded their ability to comprehend that their culture and the world were changing at the very moment they wished--and assumed--history would stop.'' Green's voice is calm and detached, his material is rich and colorful; his approach is original; the impact is powerful. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Aug.)
Library Journal
The author, chief historian at the Strong Museum in Rochester, New York, finds that technological innovation transformed the nation in the 1915-45 period, leading to a growing personal uncertainty in Americans' lives. New methods of production increased consumption; under-consumption and selective prosperity, he argues, led to the Depression. Advertisers worked to persuade consumers that newly created social ills could be cured, but only by using a certain product. Advances in electrical appliances promised the housewife more freedom, but scientific studies questioned the foods she served her family. Green has filled his exceptionally readable work with the minutiae of everyday life, from frozen foods to Superman comics, using these material things to illuminate broader aspects of American culture. This fifth volume in the series will be useful to social and cultural historians.-- Deborah Hammer, Queens Borough P.L., New York

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060924140
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
07/01/1993
Series:
Everyday Life in America Ser.
Pages:
272

What People are saying about this

Linda K. Kerber
Wolf understands that the past is a foreign country. [This] splendid account of eighteenth century life reflects the newest scholarship and introduces us to a colonial American society that was complex, lively, and rapidly changing...Full of surprises.

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