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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Asahina & Wallace (October 21, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1940412048
  • ISBN-13: 978-1940412047
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,426,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Leo Braudy was born in Philadelphia. Nurtured by B-movies, comic books, and early rock and roll, he spent his teenage years amid folk singing, Cold War paranoia, and the general cultural mishmash of the 1950s. Somewhat later he entered the academic world and has taught at Yale, Columbia, Johns Hopkins and now for thirty years at the University of Southern California. He is known for writings on film such as Jean Renoir and  The World in a Frame, as well as such cultural histories as The Frenzy of Renown: Fame and Its History and From Chivalry to Terrorism: War and the Changing Nature of Masculinity. This book is his tribute to the world in which he grew up.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Albert Litewka on January 1, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Trying To Be Cool is the most pleasurable book I have read in years. For sheer entertainment, it’s a hot fudge sundae (or Philly cheese steak) of coming of age in Philadelphia in the 1950’s. For cultural history, it’s a treasure trove of memories and analysis of America in the 1950’s – the way of life, the atmosphere, the struggles, the aspirations, the clothing, the cars, the music, the movies – it’s al there, described in beautiful, lyrical prose by a master cultural historian. Leo Braudy is no ordinary autobiographer. He is a distinguished scholar, author, and expert on many things academic and popular. To share with him the experience of growing up at fascinating, formative place and time in American post-WW II history is a special treat indeed.
by Albert Litewka
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mike on January 30, 2014
Format: Paperback
This memoir is so enjoyable. It reads with the energy of a genre book and the thoughtfulness and insight of a great novel. While the book covers Mr. Braudy growing up in the fifties in Philadelphia I grew up at the same time in NYC and I totally identified with it. It’s more about childhood and teenage years in the fifties and into the sixties than it is about Philadelphia. The Philadelphia references just add the color and specificity that make it universal.

I especially liked how the author parallels his growth through adolescence with the beginning of rock ‘n’ roll and the importance that played in a teenager's life, especially at the school and community dances that were such an essential part in early dating. His description of an early rock ‘n’ roll dance, the Bug, and how each kid brought his own style to it is hilarious. Also, I have never read a more accurate or fun filled description of ‘hanging out’ on the corner. Braudy captures the social dynamic and class distinctions of that adolescent ritual dead on and with lots of laughs.

In short, this is a special memoir that is intelligent and great fun to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Albert LaValley on January 2, 2014
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This lively memoir of growing up in Philadelphia during the 1950s captures the excitement, tensions, and pleasures of an era that is too often described as dull or conformist, but clearly was not. And it shows that individualism was a real possibility that could be achieved. The directness of experience in the writing--particularly with music and dancing--- is a delight and brings the period to life, and is balanced by strong social analysis that shows the period's diversity and tensions. Though Leo is a highly regarded professor of English, there is nothing academic about the writing here. The view of his struggles is direct and strongly independent and the view of the period is fresh and pathbreaking. I've known Leo for many years, but here is a different Leo I had not known before, one that deepens and enlivens him, the process of growing up, and the American 50s. Al La Valley
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Renee Johnson on January 7, 2014
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I enjoyed encountering this honest and funny snapshot of 1950s America through the eyes of a boy navigating his way toward adulthood. The vivid descriptions, characters, and commentary not only highlight the parallels with growing up in any day and age, but also how not so "perfect" and "tame" this time in American history was on a social and political level.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Cushing-Jones on January 3, 2014
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Even though I grew up on the East Coast not far geographically from where Braudy grew up, our early life experiences could not have been more different. I was fascinated to see Braudy's world so easily and clearly through his eyes. It was as if I was walking down those Philadelphia streets in his shoes.

I also loved all of his pop culture references, which brought back all sorts of my own memories as I was reading his charming book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Maggie Bucks on January 1, 2014
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I loved this memoir. It's an interesting story of a smart kid's life in Philly in the time of Dick Clark and Bandstand. It shows a sensitive and vulnerable young boy assessing the people and the events and the things around him in an attempt to make sense of how to navigate it all - and come out somewhere near the top. It's heartfelt and honest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By george davis on January 8, 2014
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Having spent my "cool" years on a farm and at private schools, Leo's book was an education, revelation, and enumeration of what I missed and what I acquired during my time. Leo's writing and perspectives gave additional grit.
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