1957: The Year That Launched the American Future

Eric Burns. Rowman & Littlefield, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-1-5381-3995-0
Journalist Burns (The Politics of Fame) delivers a richly detailed yet disorganized account of the year 1957 in American history. Among many topics, people, and events, Burns relates the laying of 41,000 miles of new roadway under President Eisenhower’s Highway Act to the success of the 1957 Chevy Bel Air and the failure of the Edsel. He also profiles Christian evangelist Billy Graham and libertarian writer Ayn Rand, and documents the launch of West Side Story on Broadway and the Brooklyn Dodgers’ move to L.A. Other topics touched on include McCarthyism, mob influence in Cuba, Elvis Presley, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, and the cult classic film I Was a Teenage Werewolf. Though all occurred or rose to prominence in 1957, Burns lacks a unifying theme strong enough to turn his impressive knowledge into more than a collection of trivia. Even fairly straightforward parallels, such as the symbolic link between the displacement of whole neighborhoods to make room for interstate highways and the Dodgers’ abandonment of Brooklyn, go unremarked. Burns’s recounting of more obscure events, such as the Mad Bomber of New York’s largely incompetent, yet highly publicized, “reign of terror,” are welcome, but readers are likely to be left frustrated by the book’s randomness. This scattershot account fails to hit its target. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 04/30/2020
Release date: 08/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-5381-4069-7
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