THE PERILS OF PROSPERITY, 1914-192 by William E. Leuchtenburg


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Extensively documented and badly titled, this professorial book by an associate professor of history at Columbia University is less a factual history of the United States from 1914 to 1932 than an effort, by no means unbiased, to give the events of these years a sociological and philosophical interpretation. To each generation the previous one seems paradise; the author strips this illusion from the years of which he writes, telling of their shallow interpretation of the universe, their industrial upheavals, their slums and labor tragedies, tracing the development of the country from 1914, when she was still fairly close to the early years of the Republic, through her first major foreign war, the boom days of post-war prosperity with their emphasis on material things, the stock-market crash and the beginnings of the Great Depression. In these years a wider social consciousness arose and also wider restrictions on thought; by 1932 America was facing new problems, many of them still unsolved, caused by the rising dominance of the metropolis, the breakdown of religious sanctions and family authority, the growth of industrial concentration and a forced participation in power politics. Covering much the same ground as Frederick Allen's Only Yesterday but lacking its pungency and humor, this book, didactic in style, will hold little appeal for the general reader or casual historian, but should be useful as a reference book for students of the period and also as a side-textbook for classes in modern American history. Its greatest value, however, may lie in its excellent and lengthy list of reference sources.

Pub Date: April 27th, 1958
Publisher: Univ. of Chicago