- Series: Pivotal Moments in American History
- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 9, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195177495
- ISBN-13: 978-0195177497
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.8 x 6.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 30 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #210,626 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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All Shook Up: How Rock 'n' Roll Changed America (Pivotal Moments in American History) Paperback – December 9, 2004
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"One of the first to do rock-and-roll the significant service of locating it within the cultural and political maelstrom it helped to create. Altschuler does so with a good ear for the music and a deft hand, making this account a pleasure to read and ponder. He is not a flashy writer, but so much the better for his storytelling, which shows intelligence and narrative discipline.... Altschuler surpasses the admittedly sparsely populated field in the nuanced way he places the music within the conflicts--racial, sexual, commercial, and political--that it variously helped to encourage, exacerbate, and (occasionally) ameliorate. Altschuler tells a story of liberation and fear, of inspiration and exploitation, of repeated attempts to homogenize a form of cultural expression that sprang from somewhere so authentic in Western youth culture that it proved bigger and more powerful than any combination of its myriad opponents."--Eric Alterman, Atlantic Monthly
"A well thought out, well researched work, peppered with evocative archival photos and full of terse, sharp comment and considerable feel for the music and its performers."--Toronto Globe and Mail
"In All Shook Up, Glenn C. Altschuler vividly demonstrates that Rock 'n' Roll--as music, lyric, and gesture--provides the guide, the Ariadne's thread, through the labyrinth of social, cultural, generational, and sexual upheaval that was post-World War II America."--Kevin Starr, author of Americans and the California Dream
"While incorporating extensive research and quotes from the most astute rock music critics, past and present, he manages to craft prose that will suit a general audience."--Library Journal
"A book rich with shocking and humorous anecdotes.... Also offers insight into the often complicated racial and legal issues surrounding rock 'n' roll in the 1950s."--AP Weekly
"A soulful, scholarly, and thoroughly fascinating examination of the transforming power of rock and roll in American culture. Brandishing the chops of a loving fan and a scrupulous historian, Altschuler nimbly tracks the rock-propelled revolutions in manners and morality that first rumbled forth from the 1950s, a decade that seems ever more the epoch of Elvis not Eisenhower. His is a finely tuned, perfectly pitched appreciation of the rhythms of a music that became not only a soundtrack but a heartbeat to American life."--Thomas Doherty, Brandeis University
"Includes enough tantalizing tales along with thumbnail sketches of the forefathers and key moments from the annals of pioneer rock to keep the narrative lively and flowing.... This PhD is such an enthusiastic fan, my '50s generation awards him our ultimate accolade: he's obviously a 'Good Rockin' Doc.'"--Miami Herald
"A fascinating and important look at a pivotal decade in American history.... Put on those old 45s and curl up for an enlightening and eminently readable story."--PW Daily
"A remarkably thorough short history of the birth of rock and roll and its cultural contexts. Glenn Altschuler manages to weave the stories of musicians and record producers, cultural critics and legislators, psychologists and sociologists, businessmen and teenaged consumers into a lively, astute narrative of cultural change. The result is not just an especially informative history of rock, but an important cultural history of the 'long' 1950s."--Tom Lutz, author of Crying: A Natural and Cultural History of Tears and American Nervousness, 1903: An Anecdotal History
About the Author
Glenn Altschuler is Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies and Dean of the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions at Cornell University. He is the author of several books on American history and popular culture, including Changing Channels: America in TV Guide.
Top customer reviews
Oxford University Press is to be commended along with the editors of this series, Pivotal Moments in American History, David Hackett Fischer and James M. McPherson for living true to their words of historical interpretation and reporting "they were the results of decisions and actions by people who had opportunities to choose and to act otherwise". Also by showing "increasing sensitivity to issues of race, ethnicity, class, and gender in the context of large structures and processes". This volume is a classical one of American Studies, an interdisciplinary review of a period of time where social change was rapid. Researching or writing about this time through the lens of only one discipline would clearly have short-changed this era. Neither Altschuler nor Fischer and McPherson allowed that to occur and, in a sense, showed academic bravery for writing a serious book about our social history with rock and roll interwoven throughout.
Altschuler focuses his chapters on rock ‘n’ roll’s affects on specific aspects of social culture in the 1950s. He describes how white kids listened to and danced to music performed by black artists. He also shows the different ways black artists either catered to white audiences or tried to assimilate into white culture. Coinciding with the publication of the Kinsey Report, rock ‘n’ roll lyrics came under even more scrutiny, with parents and lawmakers believing that the music was responsible for teenagers experimentation with sex. Rock ‘n’ roll music was blamed for generational conflicts and teenage rebellion. Some people even linked the lure of rock ‘n’ roll to communist conspiracies.
However, I think Altschuler is giving too much responsibility to this single aspect of popular culture. While I believe in the power of music as well as the importance it plays in modern teenagers’ search for identity, I hesitate to give music as much responsibility for social change as he does. By singling out rock ‘n’ roll music and giving the genre such weight in affecting the lives of teenagers, the country should have experienced the highest rates of unmarried teenage pregnancy, a complete turn around into a communist country, high rates of incarceration and lawlessness, and a frenzied orgy in every small town. However, this did not happen in the 1950s.
What did happen was that rock ‘n’ roll played a role in an environment that was ripe for change. It is another item on the list that made the 1950s such a significant decade. Within the context of anti-communism, McCarthyism, the Interstate system, suburbanization, television, conspicuous consumption, the automobile, the Cold War, and technological advances, it is an important factor that would not be as significant without looking at the decade as a whole and the 1950s-1960s as an era.
Music was a social lubricant and a personal identifier in many cases, but was not the catalyst for the social changes the US experienced in the 1960s. It set the groundwork for a musical revolution, but so did musical technology like the electric guitar. Altschuler defines rock ‘n’ roll as strictly a teenage phenomenon, but music transcends generations. It may not have happened in every household, but I’m sure that some parents enjoyed rhythm and blues music or bought Elvis records.
In his Epilogue, Altschuler chooses Bruce Springsteen as the heir apparent to the 1950s music, but then he explains that Woodstock was the natural progression for a generation that came of age on rock ‘n’ roll. I fail to see the segue way between the 1950s and Woodstock or Woodstock and Springsteen. The Woodstock generation were simply too young to have been as affected by the advent of rock ‘n’ roll.
I've convinced a few other people to read it, and they all really seemed to enjoy it.