The Good Life

Loren Baritz, Author Knopf Publishing Group $19.95 (361p) ISBN 978-0-394-54947-7
In this sweeping study of evolving middle-class values in America, social historian Baritz ( The Servants of Power , City on a Hill ) recalls a rigidly authoritarian, male-dominated turn-of-the-century society infused with accelerated ambition from the waves of tradition-bound but upward-struggling immigrants. World Wars I and II, the morally rebellious jazz-age 1920s and the sobering 1930s Depression gradually eroded male self-esteem, shows the author, while slowly creating new opportunities for women. More significant change, Baritz notesnot surprisingly, began in the 1950s when suburban baby-boom parents ``replaced culture with wealth'' and valued above all else their children's material ``happiness''which in turn led to a bored tyranny of the young who in the 1960s and '70s ridiculed conventional values, fought for civil rights and an unfettered lifestyle, and resisted the Vietnam War. Now, in pursuit of individual wealth and power, according to the author, women, ethnics and reactionary males elbow each other fiercely as a ``protean'' androgynous and loveless middle class ``detached from its own history.'' (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1988
Release date: 12/01/1988
Paperback - 375 pages - 978-0-06-097275-2
Open Ebook - 229 pages - 978-0-307-83214-6
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