Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Daily Life in the United States, 1920-1940 by David E. Kyvig~★★★★★

Author: David E. Kyvig
Title: Daily Life in the United States, 1920-1940: How Americans Lived Through the "Roaring Twenties" and the Great Depression
Release Date: September 30, 2004
Publisher: Ivan R. Dee
Genre: Non-fiction

Book Cover: "The 1920s and 1930s witnessed dramatic changes in American life: growing urbanization, technological innovation, cultural upheaval, and economic disaster. In this fascinating book, prize-winning historian David E. Kyvig describes everyday life in these decades, when automobiles and home electricity became common place, when radio and the movies became broadly popular. Major national developments from the adoption of woman suffrage and the coming of national prohibition, to the economic collapse of the early 1930s and the subsequent rise of the New Deal are considered in terms of their effects on the daily lives of Americans. The book concludes by examining daily life in six American cities, large and small, in Indiana, New Mexico, Iowa, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. The details of work life, domestic life, and leisure activities make engrossing reading and bring the era clearly into focus, on a level we can call understand. With 53 black-and-white photographs."

Taryn's Review: Grad school is kicking my butt. I have lots of reviews in draft mode, but haven't had time to complete them. After April things should slow down, thankfully!

This book was one I read for my exams and I loved this book. I devoured this book. It answered so many questions I've thought to myself about the transition to a world with electric lights and horseless cars. Kyvig is a great writer and you definitely do not need a history background to enjoy this book.

Kyvig focused on automobiles, electricity, radios, movies, culture, religion, politics, and labor (off the top of my head). I learned so many fun, random facts from this book. For example, library circulations grew exponentially after people were able to light their homes from electricity; it was much easier to read near a light bulb than an open fire or dim lanterns; that's also about the time the symbol of the light bulb over one's head emerged and was equated with knowledge or new ideas. The term horsepower was derived to explain the amount of power that was exerted and equaled as compared to a draft horse. Soap operas derived their name because the shows were acted out on the radio and were sponsored by soap companies, thus soap operas, and the name carried over to televisions. These types of facts delight me!

The book was so interesting and so readable. It explained the direct relation as to how and why our present lives are they way they are. The book can be a bit statistic heavy in parts, but math-oriented people should enjoy that inclusion. The pictures were really fascinating and a great addition to the book. A great exercise for the reader is to imagine those in your family line who experienced life as during this period. My great-grandmother was born in 1914 and she grew into adulthood during 1920s and 1930s; how wonderful it is that this book gave me an overview about some of the bigger themes and issues present during her lifetime.

If you like U.S. history, read this book. Whether your interest lie in early or modern American history, the book is an essential read. Kyvig picked a lively topic to discuss and the book reflected as such. Give it a try!

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