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Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression by Morris Dickstein

Morris Dickstein has written a memorable cultural history of the United States during the era of the Great Depression. For those interested in what was happening in the world of jazz music among other fascinating topics will find this well-written book a reading delight as well as an invaluable topnotch reference. The photos accompanying the text are revealing and self-explanatory.

The legacy of the 1930s touched every aspect of American life, and it also brought home the words of Franklin Roosevelt who stated: "One third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished." It was a time of hardship, and it was a time of surging creativity. America during the decade of the 1930s was a time of dreams both broken and fulfilled, a time of promise and a time of social anger. 1930s America was a time of rough change and shifting within the proverbial American Dream.

John Steinbecks classic novel The Grapes of Wrath appeared in 1939 and other writings by such writers as Dorothea Lange Erskine Caldwell Michael Gold James Agee Walker Evans and Henry Roth also were published. George and Ira Gershwin Cole Porter and other popular song writers are included with the topic of jazz music taking an important role in the 1930s.

Such topics of jazz include Louis Armstrong black middle class and jazz Dixieland Duke Ellington Benny Goodman Harlem Renaissance Jews and jazz the night club world of jazz jazz origins and development "Porgy and Bess" radio swing Paul Robeson among many many others.

What is remarkable about this wonderful book is its ability to hold the reader's interest with its intimate accurate facts while taking the reader on a roller-coaster ride of the era that helped shape the United States culturally as it went into World War 2 and was further changed forevermore.

Morris Dickstein gives an accurate honest approach to what the United States was during the stormy era of the 1930s. The title fits its subject matter perfectly and honestly. Dancing in the Dark was the way and how and why of it as it was!

This is an entertaining and educational reading experience and it is certainly a book the reader will want to share with a friend. Have your local public library order a copy for its readers. This is a nonfiction look at an era oftentimes misunderstood with all of its conflicting situations and circumstances.

I would sum this book up in the following words: literate accurate informative intimate enjoyable and entertaining. This was a fine reading experience.

Highly recommended. A classic of its kind!

Additional Info

  • Book Title: Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression
  • Author: Morris Dickstein
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • Year Published: 2009
  • Book Type:: Non-Fiction
  • ISBN: 9780393072259
  • Rating: Four Stars
  • Number of Pages: 599
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