At the height of summer in August 1996, The New Republic featured a front cover that depicted a young African American woman smoking a cigarette while feeding her baby. The words ‘Day of Reckoning’ were emblazoned in bold letters across the image, and the exhortation by the editors to ‘Sign the Welfare Bill Now’ was prominently placed underneath the photograph.
With this book Andrew Haley offers an innovative account of changes in restaurants and their customers. The history of dining out in America is not simply a story about increasing culinary options but rather one that features frequent shifts in social class representation and cultural preference.
In Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Alan Sillitoe’s ground breaking 1958 novel, television is a metaphor for mass consumerism and the resulting growth of a more privatised, home-centred working-class in post-war Britain.
In the last decade the history of American capitalism has monopolized the attention of US scholars and students alike. From the halls of Harvard to the front pages of the New York Times, the history of this financial system has become a hot topic.
Household goods piled along curbs with hand-lettered signs saying ‘free’; never-worn clothing hanging in closets, price tags still in place; vacated college dormitory rooms filled with abandoned throw rugs, hair dryers, bookcases; consultants who help us simplify our lives by getting rid of ‘stuff.’ This is the world of things that many Americans inhabit today.
The mention of the Southern plantation tends to bring to mind one of two competing images: either the white-columned antebellum mansion and its manicured grounds, or the desolate home of African-American sharecroppers in the post-Civil War era.
Here is a textbook that lives up to the best ideals of the genre. The Long Sixties promises us ‘a brief narrative history of the 1960s – a quick trip, as it were, through a momentous decade’ [p. vi].
In the latest of our occasional Reviews in History podcast series, Jordan Landes talks to Joanna Cohen about her new book and the role and nature of the consumer in the US throughout the nineteenth century.
Joanna Cohen is a Senior Lecturer in American History at Queen Mary University of London.