At the height of summer in August 1996, The New Republic featured a front cover that depicted a young African American woman smoking a cigarette while feeding her baby. The words ‘Day of Reckoning’ were emblazoned in bold letters across the image, and the exhortation by the editors to ‘Sign the Welfare Bill Now’ was prominently placed underneath the photograph.
With this book Andrew Haley offers an innovative account of changes in restaurants and their customers. The history of dining out in America is not simply a story about increasing culinary options but rather one that features frequent shifts in social class representation and cultural preference.
In Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Alan Sillitoe’s ground breaking 1958 novel, television is a metaphor for mass consumerism and the resulting growth of a more privatised, home-centred working-class in post-war Britain.
Household goods piled along curbs with hand-lettered signs saying ‘free’; never-worn clothing hanging in closets, price tags still in place; vacated college dormitory rooms filled with abandoned throw rugs, hair dryers, bookcases; consultants who help us simplify our lives by getting rid of ‘stuff.’ This is the world of things that many Americans inhabit today.
The mention of the Southern plantation tends to bring to mind one of two competing images: either the white-columned antebellum mansion and its manicured grounds, or the desolate home of African-American sharecroppers in the post-Civil War era.
Here is a textbook that lives up to the best ideals of the genre. The Long Sixties promises us ‘a brief narrative history of the 1960s – a quick trip, as it were, through a momentous decade’ [p. vi].
It is an ambitious book that would try to cover the Conquest of Mexico, the rise and fall of the country’s hacienda system, the emergence of the Virgen de Guadalupe, the intricacies of Emiliano Zapata’s role in the Mexican Revolution, and the exodus of women from rural regions in the mid-1960s to look for work as ‘household help’ in the nation’s fast-growing capital city.