Reviews - What do customers think about History of the 1950's (20th Century USA)?
What people were reading and talking about in the 1950s Dec 28, 2003
What makes the 20th Century USA series such an excellent supplemental series for teachers and students of American history is that it gets beyond what you usually find in a history textbook to the events and people that were making headlines. Your standard textbook will look at the "History of the 1950s" and talk the Korean War, the McCarthy Hearings, the Soviets launching Sputnik, and Dwight Eisenhower being elected president twice, but is probably going to neglect to mention the Piltdown hoax, Mount Everest being conquered for the first time, the television quiz show scandal, and the Piltdown hoax. However, those are exactly the sort of memorable stories that are given equal billing in this slender volume by Rennay Craats, and the vast majority of entries have accompanying photographs or illustrations.
The decade of the Fifties is presented as a decade of progress and change that was both "cool" and "crazy." Craats introduces the decade with a series of headlines (e.g., "Warsaw Pact Signed," "Elvis Causes Uproar," "Anne Frank's Diary Found") and a Time Line that lays out the decade from Charles Schultz's first success with his "Peanuts" comic strip in 1950 to the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly and two other rock and roll legends in late 1959. All of these topics, along with dozens more, are covered in the body of the book, which is divided into topics from Disasters and Entertainment to Political Issues and Sports. This is a volume that pays as much attention to "I Love Lucy" and Mickey Mantle as it does to the desegregation of schools and the death of Stalin, which is why it makes for a nice supplemental volume. I can easily see teachers mining these volumes for events and people that their parents (or grandparents) would have been reading about and talking about way back then.