Going Out: The Rise and Fall of Public Amusements

David Nasaw, Author Basic Books $25 (312p) ISBN 978-0-465-07030-5
A professor of history at the City University of New York, Nasaw here presents an involving, well-crafted history of popular entertainments in the U.S. over the past two centuries, concentrating not only on the amusement businesses themselves, but also on their sociological effects. In examining 19th-century American ``museums'' (often simply sideshows), vaudeville, amusement parks, World's Fair midways, baseball parks, phonograph parlors, nickelodeons and cinema palaces, he focuses on the ``sense of civic sociability they nourished and sustained'' in our cities until the advent of television and the growing perception of the danger of urban centers contributed to their decline. Conscious of racism, Nasaw examines the vital role these amusements played in integrating white immigrants into American society while demeaning African Americans and excluding them from this public sociability. Photos not seen by PW . (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/01/1993
Release date: 11/01/1993
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