Every epoch bewilders those who live through it, but for
Americans, the postwar era has been a time of breathtaking change
and transition. With these comprehensive and engaging essays, this
volume encourages readers to form a new perspective on a recent and
highly debated period of American history.
Contributors to this volume were chosen for their ability to
conceive of topics in unconventional and provocative ways. Renowned
scholars specializing in economics, foreign affairs, political
science, and social and cultural history collectively reexamine the
history of America since the end of World War II. Rather than
divide this period into such traditional categories as "women,"
"television," and "politics," contributors take a cross-topical
approach that emphasizes the interconnectedness of American life
Beginning with an analysis of cultural themes and ending with a
discussion of evolving and expanding political and corporate
institutions, these essays address changes in America's response to
the outside world; the merging of psychological states and social
patterns in memorial culture, scandal culture, and consumer
culture; the intersection of social practices and governmental
policies; the effect of technological change on society and
politics; and the intersection of changing belief systems and
technological development, among other issues.
Many had feared that Orwellian institutions would crush the
individual in the postwar era, but a major theme of this book is
the persistence of individuality and diversity. Trends toward
institutional bigness and standardization have coexisted with and
sometimes have given rise to a countervailing pattern of
individualized expression and consumption. Today Americans are
exposed to more kinds of images and music, choose from an infinite
variety of products, and have a range of options in terms of social
and sexual arrangements. In short, they enjoy more ways to express
their individuality despite the rise of immense global
corporations, and this history imaginatively explores every facet
of this unique American experience.
Subjects: History, Sociology, Political Science
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