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The Good Old Days: They Were Terrible! Paperback – October 12, 1974
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About the Author
After acting as curator of rare books at the State Art Library in Berlin, Dr. Bettmann came to America in 1935, where he established the Archive and became well known as an expert in the graphic arts.
Among his previous publications are As We Were: Family Life in America, A Pictorial History of Medicine, Our Literary Heritage (with Van Wyck Brooks) and The Bettmann Portable Archive.
He and his wife, an interior designer, live in Pound Ridge, New York.
Top Customer Reviews
Filled with interesting graphics and drawings, this book covers all the bases from food safety to crime to public education. Barely a sacred cow is left untouched.
I've owned this book for more than ten years and it never fails to catch my interest when I pick it up again. I've also shown it to many of my friends and even given it as a gift.
As for this notion of "anti-US," this seems a bit simplistic. The author's intention seems pretty clear - to establish 19th century America as a pretty dangerous place to live. There are few, if any, comparisons to Europe. It's not intended to be a book about how "bad the US is compared to country X." No, this is about just telling it like it is (or rather, was). Being honest about our past does us no harm. Indeed, it allows us to be become even better in the future. It's called learning from your mistakes. And Bettman's book is an excellent place to start learning.
Many of the chapters will make you cringe as you learn that horses created much more pollution then cars ever did or that meat packing companies often used diseased or sickly cows and pigs. The chapters on education bring light to modern viewers that delinquency and school violence were not unknown and in one instance a young teacher was killed by her on students.
The book features wonderfully drawn illustartions that bring life to the world of our grandparents and how we should be glad to have clean roads, safe food and laws to protect consumers from fraud and deceit. A great book that all students should read and enjoy
This book doesn't read heavily like a stern textbook, but is very informative without being preachy. This is a great "bathroom reader" type of book with small, heavily-illustrated chapters, consice writing, and easy-to-understand narrative. It will really make you appreciate how good we have it now, even if we still have a ways to go.
This is one of my favorite books of all time in my reference shelf.
As for the complaint about "too many drawings"--huh???? Yes, they had photography in those days, but the process to transfer them to newspaper and magazines was expensive and not used regularly until after the turn of the century. Those "drawings" are engravings and woodcuts used to illustrate newspapers and magazines at the time. Photos were not used. Bettman is showing us how our ancestors illustrated the problems he talks about in the periodicals of the times.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An event remembering milk processing and pasteurize just recently, struck a recollection of this particular title from the past. Read morePublished 15 hours ago by William Johnson
One of the most important books of our time. Changed my life back when I read it in the mid-1980s and even more relevant now that so much of politics is driven by this belief that... Read morePublished 29 days ago by Steven Hoober
Really makes you thankful for what we now have. The book is full of useful of info.Published 1 month ago by boatcapt65
Many interesting stories that will enlighten you about the not-so-good-old-days!Published 4 months ago by Just Linda
Very interesting book, I had read it before and wanted to give it as gifts. Great book.Published 5 months ago by C. Smith
Nostalgia blurs our image of the past. Otto Bettmann's book opens our eyes to the reality of living in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. Read morePublished 9 months ago by stewart b clifford