This first volume in a series covering the twentieth century by decade is written for junior and senior high school students looking for a brief overview of the events and people of the 1950s. (The volume covering the 1960s will be published in September.) Thirteen alphabetically arranged chapters ranging from the arts to education, government and politics, law, and sports are consistently formatted and supplemented with black-and-white photographs. The major value of the series will be as documentation of the time period.
Each chapter begins with a relevant chronology and overview and concludes with short biographies of newsmakers, deaths, and a bibliography of important books published in the 1950s. The general bibliography in the back of the volume, which is divided into the same 13 sections as the book, lists current titles. Chapters on the arts, media, sports, and fashion include award winners for each year of the decade. Topics are covered in brief, easily understood sections that will be useful to lower-reading-level students. Sidebars offer additional information on such events and phenomena as Nixon's Checkers speech, the Hollywood blacklist, bomb shelters, and TV dinners. The first chapter is a chronology of world events, those occurring outside of the U.S. However, it includes Eisenhower's 1952 election, but not his reelection (both events are to be found in the "Government and Politics" chronology).
The major focus is naturally on the U.S. but worldwide events are mentioned in the analysis. Most topics are easily found in the appropriate chapter from references in the extensive index, but some (e.g., the McCarthy hearings and Brown v. Board of Education) are scattered over several chapters. Students might be interested in more illustrations in the "Fashion" chapter, which, in addition to clothing, covers architecture and car design.
Middle- and high-school libraries that own the Time-Life series, This Fabulous Century, will find some overlap in coverage, but this new series complements the older one. The Time-Life books have a greater reliance on illustrations with more of a focus on popular culture, although they contain lengthier coverage of Joseph McCarthy and his hearings. Facts On File's Day by Day series is not limited to the U.S. but covers world affairs. It has more of an emphasis on politics and gives less coverage to popular culture. The Gale volumes offer libraries coverage of much-researched topics in one series written especially for teens.