- Series: Galaxy Books (Book 567)
- Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 49534th edition (February 1, 1979)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195024923
- ISBN-13: 978-0195024920
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.2 x 5.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #605,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Damned and the Beautiful: American Youth in the 1920s (Galaxy Books) 49534th Edition
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"Superb work."--William L. O'Neill, Rutgers University
"Excellent...convincing, well-written, and thoroughly documented....This social history provides an approach for the study of youth of later decades: the sixties particularly."--Social Science Quarterly
"Should be on the reading list of any United States history course on the period between the two world wars."--Historian
About the Author
Paula S. Fass is at University of California, Berkeley.
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Fass argues that for the first time in this country, a new social shift was taking place as young people now had a gap between adolescence and adulthood - a period of a few years where they were free of direct parental control and the influence of their families, but not yet burdened with the responsibilities of work and families of their own. This gap was the result of increasing numbers of Americans attending colleges (most away from home), at a time of new technological change and economic prosperity. These factors contributed to a peer-oriented group that defined for themselves what it is (and looks like) to be young. This redefinition remains with us still as (broadly termed) "youth culture."
Certainly the outer vestiges of this have changed in terms of music, styles and other ancillary examples, but the broader cultural shift remains. IN the 1920s, Fass shows, young people redefined language (via slang), dress (via fads), social values and mores (both in terms of sex and gender interactions generally), the consumption of alcohol and cosmetics. The irony is that the changes are gradual and incremental - yet from the perspective of the "older generation" these changes are diabolical and threatening - and remain an inter-generational tension to this day.
In what is otherwise a strongly and thoughtfully written book, Fass does tend to be repetitive in the middle three chapters (on "The World of Youth: the peer society", "Work and Play in the Peer Society" and "Competition and Conformity in the Peer Culture") as she discusses the self-regulating nature of young people and the internal pressures it creates to get people to conform - but taken as a whole, her work is excellent. For social historians, those interested in 20th century American history, or those seeking more detail about longer social patterns, I highly recommend this book. It is an excellent examination of a fascinating period in history.
Many parts of the book are full of repetitions, concepts repeated over and over again, unnecessarily, so much so that many times I came to the point of thinking: “I don’t believe it. She’s really saying it AGAIN,” and was tempted to just skip the part. I never actually did it, but still…
The first part was the more interesting for me. Well, I suppose that people who read about social history of family will know everything in here, but because I’ve never read about the subject, everything was new to me. Here’s where the change in the relation between men and women is addressed quite in detail, a change that went on for nearly one century before coming to the revolution of the Twenties. The author explains the way and the reasons why a change inside the couple was possible and desirable at this time in history, and why in the Twenties relationships became more companionable, more intimate, more based on trust and sharing. Why and how this affected the way parents treated children, an so why in the Twenties young people had so much freedom in comparison with all the generations that came before.
There are quite e few repetition here too, but because I was so engaged in the subject matter, I didn’t really mind.
The part about the discussion that went on in the Twenties about young in general and young women in particular, though interesting, was a bit too abstract in my opinion and went on too much.
Bu the real trial for me was the middle part.
Here the author addresses campus life. Really, I nearly couldn’t stand it. She repeats the same three or four concepts over and over and over and over again, so that it might have been interesting the first time, but because of the obsessive repetition I just couldn’t stand it. And honestly, from what I read, I don’t think campus life was so interesting to devote so much time and words to it.
The last part is what I expected the book to talk about before I read it: actual behaviour of young people in the Twenties and why they acted like that. Why young women started bobbing their hair, why they started shedding layers and layers of dressing, why they started using cosmetics. How young men reacted. What young people considered inappropriate as opposed to what they parents considered inappropriate.
I really enjoyed this part. Shame that it was so short.
So on the whole I would recommend the book to anyone interested in social history, especially of the Twenties. Just keep a good stock of patience at hand… or prepare yourself to skipping quite a few pages.
It's not a read to undertake for pleasure. It's fairly scholarly-written, is chock full of statistics and notes (to look up in the back of the book) on every other page. The research undertaken for this book is phenomenal.
It is written by an History professor from University of California at Berkeley. The insight into the lives of young Americans during that time is invaluable. If you're like me and you are enchanted by this era, although dry and full of numbers and studies etc, this book will deepen your fascination for it.
As a writer who writes a lot of fiction set in this era, it is a must have book. Anybody who writes fiction or non-fiction set in this time has to have this book. You will find it indespensible.
At first, I felt that maybe reading it would take some of the mistique out of the era, but it did not. It deepened my affection for it.
Paula Fass takes us through the social, cultural and sexual changes of the transition from the post Victorian era and into the Plastic Age. The journey she takes us on through the peer politics on university campuses throughout the United States is fascinating.
And all those hippies from the 1960s thought *they* invented cultural liberailism!