Halberstam, David. The Fifties. New York: Villard Books, 1993.
Reason read: November is clean up month. The last month to finish books started during the year.
The 1950s. The greatest generation. To put it into perspective, Churchill announced America was poised to be the most powerful country in the world by 1950. The 1950s also gave birth to the microwave oven, Lucy and Desi, desegregation, Holiday Inns, the photocopier, McDonald’s restaurant, the credit card, the polio vaccination, hip=shaking Elvis, the discovery of DNA, the color TV…I could go on and on but Halberstam does that for me brilliantly in The Fifties. He covers everything from inventions to politics; from fads to phenomenons; from people to places.
One of the best things about The Fifties is the insight into personal lives. For example, who knew that General Douglas MacArthur was a mama’s boy? She “took up residence in a nearby hotel for four years” (p 80), while MacArthur was in school. Or that Lucille Ball was adamant about her real Cuban husband playing the role in I Love Lucy?
As an aside: you can’t launch into the 1950s without backing up and talking about the mid to late 1940s. Expect a little history lesson before the history lesson.
Author fact: Halberstam’s coming of age happened during the 50s. This era is “his” generation.
Book trivia: As one would expect, there are photographs. Just not enough of them.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “David Halberstam: Too Good To Miss” (p). Nancy Pearl mentioned this is one of her Halberstam favorites.