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Teenage: The Prehistory of Youth Culture: 1875-1945 Paperback – March 25, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The definitive history of youth in revolt, from the gaslight age to the dawn of rock."
-David Fricke, Rolling Stone

"Compulsive reading . . . Teenage is a rich, rewarding book that makes an important contribution to cultural history."
-Camille Paglia, The New York Times Book Review

"Resonant . . . Savage explores . . . [an] array of teenager types, from the wild, sensational precursors to juvenile delinquency to the straight-laced good-citizen proto- preppie. It's Savage's claim to being a great historian, and it's mighty convincing."
-The Onion

About the Author

Jon Savage began writing about music in 1977 and has covered the music scene for U.S. and international publications ever since. His books include "The Kinks: The Official Biography" and "Time Travel", a collection of articles. He lives in West London.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140254153
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140254150
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #624,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By takingadayoff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
The concept of teenagers as a group separate from children and adults is relatively new. It wasn't until World War II that the word "teenager" existed and that was in response to advertisers who realized that young people had money to spend. But teenagers weren't invented during the 1940s. In writing the history of teenagers from Victorian times until World War II, author Jon Savage has shown that their history is our history. They don't govern nations or run companies, but they fight wars, earn money, commit crimes and when it comes to movies and music, it's teenagers who decide the trends.

Savage defines teenage loosely, as being from about age twelve to mid-twenties. Teenagers aren't children anymore, but they don't have the responsibilities or the experience of adults. They are like adults who haven't mastered their emotional volume control yet. Their highs are higher and their lows are lower than adults who've learned to expect disappointments and are too self conscious to enjoy with abandon. Teenagers have their lives ahead of them and anything is possible. They have little to lose and can take risks that most adults wouldn't dare.

Teenage is full of interesting stories of trend-setting teenagers such as Oscar Wilde and Arthur Rimbaud, but it's not until World War I that teenagers became really influential. With the invention of movies and radio, teenagers became the early-adopters of their times. Rudolph Valentino's fame and the reaction to his death and funeral remind me of the arrival of the Beatles in New York. Leopold and Loeb killed a child and thought they were too smart to get caught. When they were caught, they acted like celebrities during the trial, wearing stylish clothes and attracting an ardent following of young admirers.
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Jon Savage had already made his mark as a cultural historian with the exceptional England's Dreaming. This book is a similarly well-researched and absorbing account of social and cultural history that is marginalised by the more conventional historical perspectives. By bringing teenagers into the limelight Savage creates new and fascinating perspectives on some very well trodden areas. For example to see the Hitler Youth in the context of young people's lives during the Third Reich shows us that this world was interestingly complex and contradictory.

The sweep and breadth of this book is demanding on readers. It is rigorously academic, yet reads like a thriller, with almost every page revealing something new and fascinating. It is also sobering to see that attitudes towards young people by governments and corporations have been condescending and exploitative for a long time.

Any student of the culture or history of the twentieth century should read this wonderfully original exploration of a significant area of study.
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Format: Paperback
I picked up "Teenage" several years ago and first flipped it open to use one chapter for a bit of research. It's been sitting on my shelf as one of those "to tackle" books for quite some time, and I'm so glad I finally did. "Teenage" traces youth culture and the history of the terms "adolescent" and "teenager" from the 1870s to 1945. At first, I was uncertain, considering that Savage didn't cover anything more recent, but once I hit the 20th century, I could understand why--teenagers have evolved incredibly since the turn of the 20th century. Although I expected to see much about the role of the teenager in the 1920s-1940s, I was really shocked to find out some of the inner depth of the history of youth Savage presents--he's an excellent social historian and makes sure to find human connections to the topics at hand. Overall, I was fascinated by each chapter, particularly the latter ones, and was delighted to come to a new understanding of how the idea of being a teen in America (and across the world) came to be. Be warned, however, that it is a long book and does take quite a commitment to plow through it. I found that reading a chapter or two every few days was the best way to keep my interest piqued and the material fresh.
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By Ravel on April 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
I cant' be a critic on such a huge amount of work in researching and writing that must have been involved in this book. I am no scholar. And this is a very serious and articulated work.
It speaks volumes about a large subject and I am convinced there must have been enough material to make this one book a several volumes work.
It's been a rough, long reading as it took me a couple of years to read Teenage, on and off. The main reasons are that it is quite a «thick» book and it inspired me several times to get sidetracked and reach for another book off my shelves. Its «thickness» is not the physical size of it, but its amount of info throughout its pages. It sometimes overwhelmed me and it seems I am not made for this kind of overinfo anymore! My University years are a bit far behind me... So, I simply put it aside, ready for next time and took it back to read another chapter or a few at a time. I had to, I didn't want my limitations to deprive me of the fun I could get from it (yes, reading is fun) and it didn't suffer from my way of reading it.
The scope that this books covers is amazing. It fueled my love for late 19th to mid-20th century socio-history in many ways. When and how was the word Teenager coined? What it meant to be a teenager in USA, France, Germany? Rich or Poor? Educated or not? And the huge social implications that Swing and Jitterbug music brought to many teenagers in Germany at war is quite something to learn (it complements well seeing the movie Swing Kids).
My effort at going through this books are made evident here. I must simply confirm that it was absolutely worth it... Patience pays off! I really encourage you to read it!
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