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The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0380973583 ISBN-10: 0380973588 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 324 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (September 7, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380973588
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380973583
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #841,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Providing a historical perspective on a modern phenomenon is no easy task, but Thomas Hine has done an admirable job cataloging that ever-changing creature we know as the American teenager. Beginning with a look at colonial times and ending with the present-day burger-flipping menaces portrayed in the press, The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager is a fascinating look at a culture that we take for granted in these times, yet is quite a recent development. Looking deeply at the economic and educational realities of people ages 10 through 20 over the last 300 years, Hine takes readers through a world where teens were expected to contribute greatly to their family's financial well-being; in fact, in the early years of the industrial revolution, employers would often refuse to hire the head of the household unless he had several sons to offer as part of a package deal. While the first few chapters cover 50 to 100 years in one shot, time moves less rapidly beginning with the 20th century, and each decade earns its own complete chapter. Using personal stories from revolutionary-era students, 19th-century millworkers and immigrants, and classic all-American cheerleaders from the 1950s, we're given an accurate picture of what life was really like for inexperienced kids. The evolution of modern education is closely examined and will provide a wealth of interesting insights for today's educators. What was once meant as a viable alternative to the college experience has now simply become a holding pen for teens, some who may go on to a university, some who are destined to join the ranks of the perpetually underemployed. The last chapter offers a few possible suggestions for bringing realistic change into the current system; the rest of the book is sure to provide plenty of inspiration for readers to invent their own set of educational possibilities. --Jill Lightner --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

In the first decade of the 21st century, the U.S. will have its largest-ever generation of teenagers. Even if that were not so, this book would be vitally important. Hine (Populuxe) covers 400 years of American history in his fluent, broad-brushed account of the paradoxical position of those enduring their adolescence in American society. Generally viewed as the best of times and as times of madness and despair, the teen years have constantly shifted shape in adult consciousness. Pointing out that the term "teenager" itself is young (it dates from the 1940s, when it described a new consumer market), Hine convincingly rebuts the belief that teendom is a natural stage of human development. He is irritated with his own baby boomer generation for failing to produce a real revolution, comparing its efforts unfavorably with the campus unrest of the 1760s at Yale, Harvard and elsewhere, when students "imbibed the Spirit of the times," and many contributed to the American Revolution. In Hine's view, boomers have gone from blaming their parents for the ills of society to blaming their own children, about whom they hold "deeply contradictory" beliefs. Hine focuses on high school (without which, he contends, "there are no teenagers") as the "weak link" in the educational system, "because Americans have never been able to agree on what it should accomplish" yet cannot imagine young people in roles outside the schools and colleges where they are, he charges, warehoused. Anyone who professes concern about America's future should read and ponder this provocative, well-argued book. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Thomas Hine writes about American culture, history and design. His six books have dealt with such phenomena as product packaging, teenagers, fashion, interior design, and shopping. He has also contributed chapters to more than a dozen other books and exhibition catalogs, and served as multimedia editor of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. He was architecture and design critic of the Philadelphia Inquirer for 23 years, ending in 1996. He has also served as a guest curator or consultant to museum exhibitions in Miami, Denver, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and elsewhere.

He got the inspiration for his first book "Populuxe: the Look and Life of Midcentury American" in 1978 when he visited Saudi Arabia as a Ford Foundation fellow. There he noticed that the Saudis" new houses incorporated many features of the exuberant, celebratory style of the America of his childhood. John Updike praised "Populuxe" as evidence of "a mischievously alert sensibility." His most recent book, "The Great Funk" (2007) is a sequel to "Populuxe," which chronicles the upsetting, and often liberating, collapse of America's post-World War II mentality.

Hine was born in Boston, grew up in Connecticut, and graduated from Yale. He has lived in Philadelphia since 1970.

Customer Reviews

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Extraordinary insights which reflect a remarkable and creative understanding of our own history and place in time.
David DeLong
Hine does a great job detailing the major cause of teen culture; that our country has decided that young adults will no longer be allowed to act as young adults.
Bert Perry
His ideas are stimulating nonetheless and I would recommend this book to anyone who has been specifically trained to work with adolescents.
N. Lamb

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Morseburg on October 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
Today, because of the massive American youth culture, we take the descriptive term "teenager" for granted. Young people enter their teenager years and seem to become part of another world, children no longer, but not full participants in the adult culture of work and responsibility. At one time, teenagers wanted to grow up rapidly, aspiring to take on the trappings of adulthood as quickly as possible, but today millions of young men and women seem dedicated to hanging on to their youth through their thirties and forties. Because of the pervasiveness of the youth culture, we have forgotten that the concept of a teenager is a social development and a relatively recent one. The idea of the teenager only occurred as America began to achieve relative affluence, when parents - whether farmers or shopkeepers - could afford to have their offspring attend school for a longer time. As these young people began to attend secondary school - and it was only in the 1920's when more than half of our children were educated through high school - and to have more leisure time, the term "teenager" was coined. It was this combination of time and affluence that made the teenager a young consumer to be marketed to. In "The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager" Thomas Hine shows the evolution of the concept of the teenager and the history of American youth culture. He is a professional journalist who writes with a strong narrative drive. He has an eye for detail and is particularly adept at choosing interesting subjects for his books and articles. By following young adults throughout American history, he has shown a light on a subject that has not been illuminated in the same way before.
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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Courtney L. Lewis on February 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I found Thomas Hine's work to be fairly well-written. The sections on 18th and 19th century realities for young men and women was particularly interesting. I do wish that Hine would have footnoted his sources, as many historical and psychological assertions are made without the reader being entirely sure as to the origin of the material.
My biggest concern about the book is that I was unable to see, after careful reading, where the "rise and fall" actually was. Despite societal changes and historical trends, it appeared to me that teenagers have simply risen (or fallen depending on your perspective) and there has in actuality been little fluctuation at least within the 20th century in the degree of their powerlessness. Hine's writing becomes a tad more flamboyant when speaking of the 60s (as he confesses this was his own coming-of-age period) and there is very little contemporary information for the 1980s onward. This book would probably be more helpful for the researcher looking for information on the 1800s and early 1900s, but would not lend itself to someone looking for insight into adolescent culture of the last 25 years.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Diana on February 6, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I could not put this book down once I began reading it.

It was entertaining, informative, and really made me question the way teenagers are classified today. The amount of both freedom and responsibility granted to younger adults in earlier generations is amazing in comparison to the idleness and lack of direction granted to them today. I'm fascinated by the evolution of the high school--beginning as an actual *useful* place for building work skills and as a replacement for college and how it has evolved into a glorified babysitting service that regurgitates information. I recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn the varied places of youth in America across history.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By wjbussell@juno.com on September 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The information presented in this book is very interesting in that it explains a lot of what I went through in my own teen years as well as what my two children went through in theirs, and what my grandson has faced and the others will face. At this present moment I believe everyone, especially news reporters should be made aware of the contents of this book. My son, a Police Officer, has found the informaiton helpful, and my wife a school teacher has found this to be true also.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Forrest R. Pitts on July 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
Tom Hine's book, The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager, perceptively traces the 3-century history of younger people (those in their teen years) in Colonial and 18th century times, and on to the creation of the "teenager," as a result of post World War I growth of high schools. Throughout Hine chronicles how these younger people have been distrusted and viewed with panic by adults. The decline of the teenager, Hine says, is shown by high school tribalism, with numerous cults and subcults, silently posing in public, but communicating with no one but themselves. This is a witty and valuable book, one that should be in the library of every American parent.
-- Forrest R. Pitts, Prof. of Geography (Emeritus)
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By N. Lamb on August 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
I was quite anxious to read this book when it was assigned to me by my history professor at the University of Nebraska. It was hot off the presses when we had a chance to read and study the book as part of a Family History course. In that context, Thomas Hine's book helped to show how concepts of the American family make their way into our cultural mythos. The idea of the teenager has been around for little over 60 years and it seems well on being a somewhat permanent fixture. Yet, I think he is right to point out the problems that exist with this term. (What irony that the word 'teenager' caught on because it was easily marketable!) Contrary to one's expectations, this book doesn't talk about how teenagers have 'gone bad'. Instead, he suggests that this category might not be as useful as it once was. His theory is almost as economic as it is sociological. Certainly I hope we might expect more from 'teenagers' than for them to act like 'teenagers'. I certainly hope to see the downfall of the modern 'teenager' in my lifetime, in the sense of Hines' vision. His ideas are stimulating nonetheless and I would recommend this book to anyone who has been specifically trained to work with adolescents. It will make you rethink the entire approach to educating and nurturing our nation's youth.
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