Land of Desire: Merchants, Power, and the Rise of a New American Culture

Land of Desire: Merchants, Power, and the Rise of a New American Culture

by William R. Leach


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Land of Desire: Merchants, Power, and the Rise of a New American Culture by William R. Leach

This monumental work of cultural history was nominated for a National Book Award. It chronicles America's transformation, beginning in 1880, into a nation of consumers, devoted to a cult of comfort, bodily well-being, and endless acquisition. 24 pages of photos.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679754114
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/28/1994
Pages: 560
Product dimensions: 5.15(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.15(d)

About the Author

William R. Leach is a professor of history at Columbia University. His books include Butterfly PeopleCountry of Exiles: The Destruction of Place in American Life, and Land of Desire: Merchants, Power, and the Rise of a New American Culture, which was a National Book Award finalist.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Land of Desire and the Culture of Consumer Capitalism
I: Strategies of Enticement
1. The Dawn of a Commercial Empire
“The Master Institutions of Civilized Life” • From Marble Palaces to Masses of Goods and Capital • The Retail Wars of the 1890s • “The Greatest Merchant in America” • The Crisis of Distribution
2. Facades of Color, Glass, and Light
Elbert Hubbard and Eye Appeal • Signs of the Times • The Careers of Robert Ogden and Maxfield Parrish • L. Frank Baum and TheShowWindow • A Maze of Glittering Crystal • Form out of Chaos • Arthur Fraser’s Temple
3. Interiors
Dismantling Doorsteps and the New Intimacy with Goods • “The Stage upon Which the Play Is Enacted” • Seductions for the Masses and the Classes • The “Eliminating” Power of the Central Idea • A New Child World and “Paradise in the Toy Department”
4. Fashion and the Indispensable Thing
The Growth of Fashion and a Gigantic Garment Industry • Women Buyers and the “Queens” of Paris Couture • Rodman Wanamaker and the Queen’s Slippers • Fete de Paris: The Fashion Show • The Garden of Allah
5. Ali Baba’s Lamp: Service for Private and Public Benefit
Service as a “Profitless Ideal” • Holiness or Commercial Hospitality
• “Maximum Max” and Paying the Price in Court •
Customer as Guest in “Self-Sufficient Citadels” • “Distributors of Happiness” • Gemutlichkeit and the Utopia of Joseph Urban
• A New Commercial Cultural Order
II: Circuits of Power
6. “Business Runs the World”: Institutional Coalitions Behind the New Order
“Searching Out” and Satisfying “Human Wants” • The Great
Museums and the New Curators • City Pageants and Hobnobbing with Mayors • The Widening Sphere of Public Action •
Better Babies and Better Deliveries • The Paterson Pageant
7. Wanamaker’s Simple Life and the Moral Failure of Established Religion
Wanamaker as Liberal Evangelist and Institution Builder • The
Simple Life and Pastor Wagner • A Day at Bethany • Fairy
Tales or Private Parables • Sin, Consensus, and Institution
Building • Down the Slippery Slope
8. Mind Cure and the Happiness Machine
“The New Healers” • Simon Patten’s Political Economy of
Mind Cure • Pollyanna and the Popular Culture of Mind Cure
• L. Frank Baum and Theosophy • An Affirmative American
Fairy Tale
III: Managing a Dream Culture:1922-1932
9. “An Age of Consolidation”: Goods, Money, and Mergermania
“Consumptionism” • Goods and Money “Flooding the Country”.
Chains Across the Country • Investment Bankers and
Mergermania • “The Power Is All in Business”: Chains of Department
Stores • Paul Mazur and Harvard’s Helping Hand
• The Urban Landscape of Desire
10. “Sell Them Their Dreams”
The Consumer Credit Apparatus • Air-Conditioned Murals and
“One White Fur” • “Brokers in Beauty” • In Style with
Dorothy Shaver • Accessorizing on the Grand Scale • The
Pseudoevents of Edward L. Bernays
11. The Spectacles
The Rainbow House and the Palace of Fashion • The Commercial
Parade • Toys, Spectacles, and the Child Experts •
Ragamuffins and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade • America’s
Mecca of Light and Color • “All the Colours of the Rainbow
Belong to Mr. Bilge”
12. Herbert Hoover’s Emerald City and Managerial Government
Herbert Hoover’s Pursuit of Knowledge • Commerce as Database and Julius Klein, Master Broker • “Horne, Sweet Home”
• Dissent and the “Torments of Desire”
Conclusion: Legacies

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Land of Desire: Merchants, Power, and the Rise of a New American Culture 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent, interesting, I learned a lot. This book will help you understand how and why business is so influential in our government.