pherank

Reading Recommendation: The Story of a Decade

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For the lazy reader (of which I am one), or the time-challenged reader, I highly recommend the multi-volume series by the New Yorker:

The 40s: The Story of a Decade
The 50s: The Story of a Decade
The 60s: The Story of a Decade

I particularly like the 40s collection, which includes John Hersey's Pulitzer prize-winning "Hiroshima", which I wish was mandatory reading for all college freshmen, and "PT-109" which details JFK's wartime 'adventure' (far more harrowing than many realize), Lilian Ross on the Nuremberg Trials, the Miss America Pageant and the Red Scare in Hollywood; A.J. Liebling on the Fall of France (reporting from France), and more…


We're all used to reading about events after the fact, with the benefit of hindsight, but it can be particularly poignant to read someone's commentary while they're in the thick of things.

 

The "60s" volume has a number of excellent articles concerning the student free speech movement, and civil rights-related subjects. There is a Calvin Trillin piece titled "Youth in Revolt" (from Letters From Berkeley), which is particularly interesting/depressing/informative, as it relates to our current political upheavals.

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Wow, pherank, we are currently on a similar wave length! I've just finished rereading both Hiroshima and PT-109. Some of my high school students are currently studying the political 1940's, so I reread both of those books to refresh my memory. I agree that Hiroshima should be a mandatory read for mature students studying that period of history. 

 

Which book was about the Red Scare in Hollywood? A relative of mine was a victim of McArthy-ism, not in the entertainment field, but as a high-ranking Army personnel officer. He died of a heart attack during his trial, but it was fairly certain by nearly everybody that he would be acquitted. Richard Nixon was the leader of the attack against him. Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. spoke in my uncle's defense. Coincidentally, I was visiting my aunt for a week when Nixon resigned: what emotions for her! Chills up and down my spine. Needless to say, I have a visceral connection to anything about that awful period in our nation's history. Let's not get into my strong feelings about the current political world. 

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What you say about your relative is very interesting, Vagansmom. Not a particularly proud episode in American history.

 

Let me see, in the 40s volume, there's Lillian Ross's Come In, Lassie! (On the Red Scare in Hollywood).

The 50s volume has Notes and Comments (On the case against Senator McCarthy) by E.B. White.

 

 I think there are other brief mentions in other articles, but the volumes tend to have a little of everything, including short fiction and poetry selections.

 

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