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Comment: VG - This Paper Back book is in very good overall condition. Dust jacket, if applicable, is intact, with no nicks or tears. Spine has no signs of creasing. Pages are clean and not marred by notes or folds. Thank you for shopping with Goodwill of Dayton Ohio, we hope your experience was pleasant. All books we sell are in used condition, if you have any questions please feel free to email us.
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The Way Things Never Were: The Truth About the "Good Old Days" Paperback – May 6, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The catchy title of Finkelstein's (Friends Indeed) latest is a bit of a misnomer, for his examination of the good old days of the 1950s and '60s spends less time debunking myths of the past than extolling the superiority of present-day America. In his prologue, Finkelstein notes that current talk-show hosts and politicians "tell us how much happier we would be if only we returned to the values, lifestyle, and practices of America's past." But the social and cultural issues of primary concern to those espousing "family values" garner little attention here. The majority of the chapters open with a nostalgic "myth" (e.g., "We Never Locked Our Doors"; "We Respected Our Elders"), followed by a discussion of advancements in technology and government programs which make life in the 1990s better than it was in the past. Some of Finkelstein's points are unsurprising (polio vaccines and the widespread use of antibiotics have led to a far healthier population) while others seem more like claims than facts (e.g, he asserts there was more violence on TV in the past than there is today). Quotations from Finkelstein and others who were children during the 50's and 60's enliven a statistic-filled text, as do the book's many historical photographs and perky design (though lengthy photo captions printed in tiny type are a drawback). For those readers up to the challenge, Stephanie Coontz's book for adults, The Way We Never Were, gives a more provocative examination of this glorified era. Ages 10-14. (July)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8-Ever get tired of people talking about the "good old days" when doctors made house calls, doors were never locked, and childhood was golden? As Finkelstein revisits the 1950s and '60s, he reminds readers that when memories wax fondly, facts should be carefully examined. He agrees that the family doctor was kind and reassuring, but points out that was the biggest part of his medical arsenal. There was no ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or measles vaccine and children were terrified of being forced into an iron lung because of polio. He describes how the Cold War fueled anxiety and promoted the "Red Scare," and discusses bomb shelters that were built in backyards in the mistaken belief that they could protect families during atomic warfare. Automobiles were unsafe; our diet was poor; and old age was not as enjoyable as it is today. The author also notes the restraints endured by minorities and women. Laced with lots of documented information, this concise social history is enticing and accessible. Sidebars in which the author and others relate pertinent childhood memories and interesting black-and-white photographs are liberally sprinkled throughout. This nifty approach to the past presents a positive outlook on the present day. Stuart A. Kallen's The 1950s (Lucent, 1998) is a more detailed book for students who already have some background on the period.
Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 07
  • Paperback: 114 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse (May 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0595348084
  • ISBN-13: 978-0595348084
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,397,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Norman H. Finkelstein is the author of eighteen nonfiction books, mainly for young readers. He recently retired as a school librarian for the Brookline (Massachusetts) Public Schools but continues into his 32nd year of teaching history in the Prozdor Department of Hebrew College. Among his writing honors are two National Jewish Book Awards, the Golden Kite Honor Book Award for Nonfiction and a "highly recommended" award from the Boston Author's Club.

His interest in history and biography developed early. "I was the only kid in the sixth grade who regularly read the New York Times," he said. His books reflect an eclectic view of his world. From his love of old-time radio came Sounds in the Air: The Golden Age of Radio and from his fascination with plastics came a social and cultural history called, simple enough, Plastics. He also served as the series editor for the Jewish Publication Society's JPS Guides.

He is married to Rosalind who he calls "my first-line editor". They have three grown children and three grandchildren. Finkelstein lives in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
When I read this book, I knew it would upset some people for whom the mythical idea they had in their head of those "happier, simpler times" would be exploded. What Mr. Finklestien forced me to realize in my reading of the book were basically two things.
Firstly, the human memory tends to be mercifully selective, emphasizing the positive and glossing over the negative. Be honest. Do you not feel that most people, yourself included, tend to have idealized memories of people that have gone on to their eternal rest ? The mere act of their passing made them better people in the minds of many who knew them. That works equally well with things, places and times that will never return. Many readers of this book will want to criticize Mr. Finkelstein for making them face the truth of the matter that, in the words of Mr. Joel, "The good old days weren't always good..." I am not among those. Instead, I greatly appreciate the author for the dose of reality.
Secondly, I have always been of the opinion that you cannot really "solve" problems. The act of eliminating one creates another. I believe that if you look at the wide screen that encompasses both past and present, you get a good illustration of my point. Some things about America's golden age were indeed better; some indeed weren't. I could write you a list right now as long as your arm of things from that era that I would love to see return, then turn right around and write an equally long list entitled, "But for God's sake, please let me never again see....."
My bottom line....I found Mr. Finkelstein's work very informative and interesting. For those who can handle the truth, it's a good read. But if you're among those who may become traumatized by having your mental version of those "good old days" challenged, my recommendation to you is to simply stay away.
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The book is very accurate but doesn't quite do justice to how those of us who lived those times care to remember. The nearness of family and friends overcame all the bad things mentioned in the book.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Finkelstein does a tremendous job at showing that things in the past were not necessarily better than now. My own grandmother talks about how much better life was growing up for her. She doesn't seem to remember that she has lived through 2 world wars, the depression and countless other tragedies. A must read for young and old alike.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The author has attempted here to put American history in its true perspective (whatever that may mean). He successfully reports SOME of the differences between then and now, but his manipulation of the facts didn't convince me that we've got it better now than before. I grew up in the 50s and indeed DO remember simpler times. While Finkelstein laments our "limited choices" back then, and "black-and-white" television (oh, POOR US!) he fails to mention that our 'limited' choices were far more than previous generations had. Granted, we have more conveniences now than previously (COLOR t.v.---one-fourth the size of a small room wall, even!!), but we have over-crowded living conditions, deplorably crowded freeways, unbelievably high insurance rates for medical care, and, of course, the threat of nuclear disaster STILL is having over our heads. So, we are living longer? GOOD! But keep in mind that living longer has it's own set of problems. A so-so book.
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