When I received the assignment, I already knew that I would read a historical book. The book under analysis is entitled The 1950s and written by William and Nancy Young. I love history, so I was glad to know more about some facts, people, and events. Besides, the topic was not completely new to me as I had had some background knowledge regarding this decade in the history of the USA. Quite expectedly, the authors still managed to surprise me and provide a plethora of interesting details. All those little stories of Americans who contributed greatly to the development of the society can help people understand the country and its people.
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The authors start their book with some general information concerning the decade. Young and Young stress that the 1950s were the beginning of the era of consumerism that defined other spheres of people’s lives (23).
Americans had numerous products and services to buy, and they had enough money to afford various items. The introduction of first credit cards facilitated the process and made Americans accustomed to the concept of debt. The authors also describe the peculiarities of U.S. families of the 1950s. The focus was on such values as children, patriotism, religion, and consumerism. It became a norm to have more than two children as people could afford it. Gender roles were quite rigid, and segregation in the society was at a very high level.
After this brief introduction, different aspects of culture are depicted and analyzed in detail. The authors discuss such spheres as travel, leisure activities, advertising, and architecture. The culture of consumerism that was unravelling and the rising popularity of television led to the development of the marketing industry as people know it today. Advertisements bombarded Americans with claims that some products would solve any issue an individual could encounter (Young and Young 47).
During the 1950s, travel became more affordable than ever before as the automobile industry provided the country with affordable and high-quality cars. Young people often went travelling in their cars across the country as they had enough funds to spend their vacations that way.
The book also contains many details regarding the music, visual and performing arts, and literature of the 1950s. All these spheres were characterized by the focus on prosperity and extravagance, as well as freedom and innovation. Numerous movements and styles started their co-existence during that period. The radio was gradually replaced by the cinematography, and millions of people went to cinemas or watched films on TV (Young and Young 191). Rock ‘n’ roll appeared and won the hearts of the American youth while adults and older adults saw it as a considerable threat to their way of life.
The book made a significant impression on me as I learned a lot about the contemporary American culture that is deeply rooted in the beliefs and ideas that appeared in the 1950s. The concept of consumerism became completely understood as the Americans of the 1950s tried to forget about the atrocities of the economic crisis of the 1930s and quite hard times during the wartime. I believe all young people should read the book to glance at the dawn of the American way of life as it is now. The authors managed to recreate the atmosphere of that decade by providing tiny but meaningful details concerning people’s life.
Young, William H., and Nancy K. Young. The 1950s. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004.