PROMISED LAND

HOW THE RISE OF THE MIDDLE CLASS TRANSFORMED AMERICA, 1929-1968

A thoughtful look at a long-ago era when America seemed egalitarian and prosperous.

A history of “the rise of the middle class as a defining feature of American society from the 1930s to the 1960s.”

In the mid-20th-century, middle-class Americans saw their position as timeless and natural. Few believe that now, and political scientist Stebenne has written a provocative account of their rise and fall. He reminds readers that until well into the last century, farming was a grueling life, and wages in factories, mines, mills, and offices did not support a bourgeois lifestyle. Matters began changing between the wars. The author begins with Herbert Hoover, whose winning 1928 election campaign emphasized the nation’s march toward prosperity. His personality ill-equipped him to handle the Depression, an accusation no one makes against his successor, Franklin Roosevelt, whose programs, conservatives insist, did not end massive unemployment. Stebenne agrees and admits that many New Deal programs flopped, but others laid the groundwork for the postwar middle-class explosion. Among these were farm subsidies, business regulation, bank reform, housing legislation, social security, encouragement of labor unions, and a graduated income tax to pay for it. In 1945, civilians had savings that they yearned to spend, so the depression everyone expected when returning soldiers flooded the job market never happened. By the 1950s, prosperity seemed the norm, although it was a white, suburban family prosperity with a male head of household. The impoverished minority seethed, and dissatisfaction swelled among intellectuals and activists. Few doubt that the 1960s saw the end of the good times. Stebenne blames the Vietnam War, the revival of organized, free-market conservatism (“born out of opposition to [John F.] Kennedy’s efforts to sustain and expand the existing system through diplomacy abroad and activist government at home”), and competition from Europe and Asia, now recovered from the devastation of World War II, which stimulated businesses to move to the low-wage south and then across the sea.

A thoughtful look at a long-ago era when America seemed egalitarian and prosperous.

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-0270-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 16


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • National Book Award Finalist

KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 16


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • National Book Award Finalist

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Close Quickview