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The Rockabillies (Center for American Places - Center Books on American Places) Hardcover – March 15, 2010

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Product Details

  • Series: Center for American Places - Center Books on American Places
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Center for American Places (March 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1930066996
  • ISBN-13: 978-1930066991
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,063,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Jennifer Greenburg’s photographs transport viewers to a time and place—America in the 1950s—that largely exists in our collective imagination. Yet she has found a distinctive subculture of people which resurrects this time and makes it their reality, bringing not only the tiki prints, saddle shoes, and other visual markers into the twenty-first century, but also the social norms, taboos, and gender roles of this post-World War II era. The Rockabillies is a fascinating study of the significant impact material culture and design have on the way we live.”

(Julie Rodrigues Widholm, Pamela Alper Associate Curator, Museum of Contemporary)

“As with the best documentarians, Jennifer Greenburg allows us to see her subjects and their world on their own terms. That she has also made pictures with their own beauty and power only makes her work more compelling. Part of this is accomplished by her understanding that photography and re-creation themselves are at the heart of the rockabilly experience.”

(Andrew Patner)

“Jennifer Greenburg’s carefully crafted environmental portraits perfectly reflect the attention to detail and idealism of her subjects’ rockabilly lifestyle. By making photographs worthy of a glossy fashion magazine, Greenburg places the rockabilly’s nostalgia in a contemporary context, revealing a tension between the traditionalism and rebelliousness of their subculture.”
(Karen Irvine, associate curator, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago)

About the Author

Jennifer Greenburg completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and received her MFA from the University of Chicago. Her work is featured in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago and the Rose Gallery in California, among others.

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Customer Reviews

2.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ann Wiens on July 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In this book of carefully composed, color-saturated photographs--nearly all of them portraits--Jennifer Greenburg offers entry into the rockabilly subculture of which she is both participant and observer. Taken between 2001 and 2009, mostly in the Chicago area (where Greenburg, who teaches photography at Columbia College Chicago, lives), the photos initially appear to have been shot about 50 years earlier.

In the book's introduction, Greenburg explains how her involvement in the close-knit rockabilly community initially evolved from a shared aesthetic. That particular aesthetic--with its poodles and pompadours; crinolines and credenzas; dinette sets, tiki bars, and pin curls--is emblematic of an era of optimism, a fictional America of happy suburban families with stylish cars, bright-eyed children, and easy lives. The craving for this American dream is at the subculture's center: the rockabillies, Greenburg notes, were "actively pursuing a 1950s lifestyle of marrying young, moving to the suburbs, and having children. They did not care much for the ins and outs of politics... and they weren't losing sleep over the economy, AIDS, or Roe v. Wade." She found "a subculture of people who had mostly turned away from the horrors of contemporary American culture to focus on family, friends, music, and vintage Americana."

This escapism may seem irresponsibly naïve on a level, but Greenburg's subjects knowingly pick and choose the elements that define their subculture. They create a fantasy lifestyle modeled on fictionalized depictions of an ideal from an era before most of them were born--with total self-awareness. As Greenburg notes, her interest in this vision of the past allows her "to be the architect of a dream world constructed entirely in my own imagination.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Gerard Guidoni on July 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The rockabilly scene is vibrant and colorful. The music, cars, the fashions and the people who are very into it and are very passionate about it. In fact, those are the very people depicted in this book. However, none of the joy and fun of the scene is communicated in these photos. The subjects are still, lifeless and without any joy...or any emotion or personality at all, really. The scenes are meticulously set, the subjects painstakingly groomed and posed. They could be mannequens on a set. The book shows none of the fun I've seen in folks who are modern rockabilly fans and none of the persnality - and there certainly are some characters in the scene!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Philip on February 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book itself is nice, but I have to laugh at the author for thinking she is "in" the scene. She clearly is NOT.
Maybe I will have to publish my works over the last 14 years into a coffee table book on the Real Rockabilly lifystyle.
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9 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Gigi7 on January 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A dissapointing book overall.
The photography is boring and generic.
I thought the photos would be much more interesting and more represenative of the rockabilly scene with a little more info on the subjects photographed. It really isnt worth 50 dollars or even 38 wich is what I paid for it. The author makes a good go at it but it falls short in representation and falls extremely short in creativity.I wanted to love this book but for me it was dssapointing. For someone else it might be Great. To each there own. I dont recomend buying this book.
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