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Analysis of the 1950s

Alan EhrenhaltÆs The Lost City: The Forgotten Virtues of Community in America challenges many of the commonly held assumptions and culturally held beliefs about progress and how the idea of progress has changed throughout the course of this American Century for Americans. In many ways, it might be seen as an elegy to the 1950s, not an era that is often elegized, but Ehrenhalt argues that it was nearly as bad as we like to think it was û in terms of insularity, pressure to conform, excessive consumerization of the economy, and suppression of the rights of women, gays and racial and religious minorities. But he also at times seems to argue that even if it were not the ideal decade in many ways, than it was still worth it because it offered to Americans something so precious (and something that is in such short supply these days) that it would have been worth giving up something important to get.

One of EhrenhaltÆs most valid points is hardly original to him, but he presents it convincingly and within a context in which it is not often presented. There is no free lunch, and a sense of community, like other kinds of personal (emotional) richnesses must be paid for somehow, although (he argues) not in the kinds of drastic ways that we now think of the 1950s as having required.

The book examines the 1950s as the time before Baby Boomers began to attack the institutions of education, government, religious belief û the visible sociological forms of authority û and draws connections between these feints against the established order and the fact that American streets are no longer safe to walk along at night (although, of course, they were never entirely safe, and one hazards that despite all of EhrenhaltÆs elegiac words, they were particularly unsafe for a black man in Mobile in a white neighborhood). Baby Boomers, Ehrenhalt correctly if just a touch simplistically writes, demanded more personal autonomy and a greater sense of indi...

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Analysis of the 1950s. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:03, July 01, 2022, from