The Fifties

The Fifties

by David Halberstam

The Fifties is a sweeping social, political, economic, and cultural history of the ten years that Halberstam regards as seminal in determining what our nation is today. Halberstam offers portraits of not only the titans of the age: Eisenhower Dulles, Oppenheimer, MacArthur, Hoover, and Nixon, but also of Harley Earl, who put fins on cars; Dick and Mac McDonald and Ray Kroc, who mass-produced the American hamburger; Kemmons Wilson, who placed his Holiday Inns along the nation's roadsides; U-2 pilot Gary Francis Powers; Grace Metalious, who wrote Peyton Place; and "Goody" Pincus, who led the team that invented the Pill.A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 4.23
  • Pages: 816
  • Publish Date: May 10th 1994 by Ballantine Books
  • Isbn10: 0449909336
  • Isbn13: 9780449909331

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I have two problems with the book, though; one quite minor and one quite major. The minor quibble is that Halberstam writes this book from such a US-centric point-of-view that I really think the title would better have been 'The Fifties in America' or something along those lines. As I say, though, this is a minor quibble and I'm aware I'm probably being a bit nit-picky.

I've read it before but I have it on my nightstand now, probably as a result of the confluence between "Mad Men" being back on AMC (oh my goodness, WHAT is going on with Betty?!) and my parents' ongoing Great PreDeath Cleanout of Books.

Considering the wide range of movies produced in that era this tells me a great deal about the author.

Everything I've ever read by David Halberstam has been rewarding and everything, except his early and probably most important book, The Best and the Brightest, has been a sheer pleasure. The Best and the Brightest reads most like an academic history.

Halberstam writes like a fuddy-duddy who has no respect for Elvis Presley, or James Dean, or for anything connected with the glory days of early rock and roll. But not many men can totally hate on Douglas Macarthur AND Elvis Presley! What drove me to distraction as I read this book was trying to figure out the link between MacArthur and Elvis. What Elvis and MacArthur had in common -- what David Halberstam can't stand -- is that neither one of them were team players.

I just completed the 3rd re-read of David Halberstam's in depth look at the culture of the 1950's.

It was fun to read David Halberstam's book The Fifties, and it brought back a flood of memories. I was in my middle school years at that point, and I read Time Magazine religiously from cover to cover.

THE FIFTIES is Halberstams 732 page grand epic of American history published in 1993 which covers all things political, cultural, social, and economic for the decade most often thought of as the good old days. A decade that Halberstam sees as setting the stage for the social change in the much more publicized 1960s and which really offers up many of the issues we confront today. No doubt you can see the roots of the cultural issues surrounding race and the need for change. (By the way it does not read like a twenty year old book.)

David Halberstams reflective THE FIFTIES is a wonderful return to my formative years. He wrote about the actions of and battles between American generals, media moguls, car industry giants, celebrities, foreign policy decisions, national economic positions, and sports luminaries. In THE FIFTIES, Halberstam uses the same writing style that was his hallmark. He recounts generals nonmilitary battles, car wars, the beginning of rock and roll and rise of Elvis, the sexual revolution, fast food, mass marketing, brooding movie stars, political favorites and failures, and the genesis of a great American tradition, the televised political debate.

David Halberstam was an American journalist and historian, known for his work on the Vietnam War, politics, history, the Civil Rights Movement, business, media, American culture, and later, sports journalism. After publication of The Best and the Brightest in 1972, Halberstam plunged right into another book and in 1979 published The Powers That Be. The book provided profiles of men like William Paley of CBS, Henry Luce of Time magazine, Phil Graham of The Washington Postand many others.