America in the 1950s: “The Best of All Possible Worlds”

  • Van Gosse

Abstract

Two contrasting narratives sum up the paradox of the 1950s: on the one hand, marvelous consumer abundance and the realization of the “American Dream” for millions of families; on the other, political anxiety and enforced unity, all under the shadow of the Cold War. Two images are often used to represent this incongruity, that of new suburban lawns all over America being dug up to build bomb shelters, and of happy, well-fed children learning to “duck and cover” in their classrooms as a futile protection against Soviet nuclear attack.

Keywords

Migration Depression Europe Amid Income 

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A Selected Bibliography

  1. William Chafe, The Unfinished Journey: America Since World War II, 4th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999) is the best general history of the postwar decades, and is effectively com-plemented by the essays inGoogle Scholar
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  3. Thomas Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996) is indispensable to getting at the fragility of Cold War liberalism, and its inability to acknowledge the consequences of both deindustrialization and racial polarization well before the “white backlash” of the 1960s, which has long been used by some journalists and scholars to put the onus for New Right’s electoral success on the supposed excesses of the black freedom movement.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Van Gosse 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Van Gosse

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