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The Noir Forties: The American People from Victory to Cold Warby Richard Lingeman
Synopses & Reviews
From one of our finest cultural historians, The Noir Forties is a vivid reexamination of Americas postwar period, that age of anxiety” characterized by the dissipation of victory dreams, the onset of the Red Scare, and a nascent resistance to the growing Cold War consensus.
Richard Lingeman examines a brief but momentous and crowded time, the years between VJ Day and the beginning of the Korean War, describing how we got from there to here. It evokes the social and cultural milieu of the late forties, with the vicissitudes of the New Deal Left and Popular Front culture from the end of one hot war and the beginning of the cold one—and, longer term, of a cold war that preoccupied the United States for the next fifty years. It traces the attitudes, sentiments, hopes and fears, prejudices, behavior, and collective dreams and nightmares of the times, as reflected in the media, popular culture, political movements, opinion polls, and sociological and psychological studies of mass beliefs and behavior.
"In this candid reappraisal of America's postwar era, Lingeman (Don't You Know There's a War On?), a veteran senior editor of the Nation, covers the years between the end of WWII and the beginning of the Korean War, focusing specifically on the shift of the American mood during this time from one of vague apprehension to a pointed distrust of the nation's stability. The author shows how this decline into a noir sensibility was abetted by the homecomings of battle-scarred veterans, anxiety over future international conflicts, and the vicious anticommunist crusades in Hollywood and Washington, D.C. In 'unlocking the psychology' of the general mood, Lingeman traces how this dark disposition manifested in literature, music, and film, but the book's greatest triumph is in its depiction of the gradual change in the American populace's collective journey from the pessimism of the Great Depression, through the hope of a burgeoning postwar middle class, to a climate of fear in the McCarthy era and on into the cold war. Lingeman served the U.S. for two years in the '50s as a counterintelligence operative in Japan, and this 'historical enlargement of smaller personal memories' is an insightful and illuminating blend of history and cultural criticism." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Richard Lingeman, the longtime Senior Editor of the Nation, is the author of Sinclair Lewis and Theodore Dreiser. He lives in New York City.
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