Getting Connected: Radio and the Movies in the Daily Life of Americans, 1920-1940

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For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now. Javascript is not enabled in your browser. Enabling JavaScript in your browser will allow you to experience all the features of our site. Learn how to enable JavaScript on your browser. A happy marriage of political and social history. The details of work life, domestic life, and leisure activities make engrossing reading Essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the origins of contemporary America.

An excellent popular approach to an important subject by a well respected historian.


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An excellent social history which examines how 'ordinary people' reacted to See All Customer Reviews. Shop Textbooks. Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Aug 09, Cheryl Gatling added it. In this book David Kyvig says that the way we live our daily lives changes gradually. We are not aware of the changes happening, until we look back from a distance, and say, whoa, that's different. The period of to was one in which major changes happened. Electricity in houses changed the way people cooked, and cleaned, and passed their time. Radio broadened people's horizons.

Cinema broadened them even more. Automobiles, industrialization, the move to the cities, immigration… all thes In this book David Kyvig says that the way we live our daily lives changes gradually. Automobiles, industrialization, the move to the cities, immigration… all these things changed how people worked and played and interacted. In addition, these were years when the federal government, which had been a distant abstraction, began to touch the daily lives of ordinary people, first by allowing women to vote, then by prohibition, which told American what they could and could not consume.

Eventually there were the New Deal programs of the depression, which meant employment, sustenance, and survival for millions of Americans. The book begins and ends with analysis of census data, which is pretty dry, but contains many interesting nuggets. Toward the end it sums up by comparing the way of life in different communities around the country- a town in Iowa, one in Georgia, one in New Mexico, one in Pennsylvania, the big city of Chicago, One of the recurring themes of the book is the way changes happened at different rates in different places.

The biggest division was between urban and rural. Changes happened much more slowly on farms and in the country. In addition the South often lagged behind. One can see how these difference in lifestyle and mindset led to many of the conflicts and political divisions that plague us to this day. Or one could say that the conflicts were always there. Kyvig talks about the terrible racial unfairness that led to lynchings, and the KKK, and also resentment of immigrants, and then the devastating effects of the depression.

But what made this book most interesting to me was not its treatment of the sweeping events that changed history, but the little fascinating facts-- like that when people got electricity in their homes, they began to read more, and the circulation of public libraries doubled. Feb 20, Sarah Zama rated it really liked it Shelves: jazz-age-non-fiction.

The Roaring 20's: Crash Course US History #32

This is a very good introduction to the social history of the Stats between the two World Wars. It focuses primarily on the Twenties, but there is a good long cue on the Thirties too. The book starts off with a picture of the United States at the closing of WWI, a portrait that tries to take in as diverse situations as possible, with a heavy help form the statistics of the Census statistics are a great part of this book, which if on one hand grounds the matter in an objective perspective, on the This is a very good introduction to the social history of the Stats between the two World Wars.

The book starts off with a picture of the United States at the closing of WWI, a portrait that tries to take in as diverse situations as possible, with a heavy help form the statistics of the Census statistics are a great part of this book, which if on one hand grounds the matter in an objective perspective, on the other comes across as dry in many places and some anthropological studies of the period.

Because the Twenties are essentially years of big changes, regarding so many ways of life, this is where the book focuses. The first few chapters deal with the three more important innovations in the decade: the car, the radio and electricity. Things that already existed, but now became so widely common to change the way people worked as well as they used their free time.

A couple of long chapters in the middle of the book deal with the way life moved in the short run everyday life and in the long run a year around portrait of life. Here is where the true details come out: the way life changed inside the house, the way houses changed in response to new technology and new expectations, the way people behaved toward one another, the way they reacted to small and big event in life going to school, falling in love, managing a family, dealing with life events like births and deaths.

Changing behaviours toward job, changing behaviours toward entertainments, changing behaviours toward food, clothes, hairstyle, advertisement. And to be honest, what impressed me the most about these chapters concerning the expectation of people and the way they sought to realise them, is how much it's similar to today attitude. It's true, there are so many different things between the Twenties and today, but there are also so many similarities.

More, in my opinion, than with any other past decades. It's here that so many things we take for granted first entered people's life electric appliances, the car, far and fast communication - radio and phone - but also the way people get together - parties, cinema - and look to each other - a less restrained, less rules-heavy way of relation.

It's here, in a way, that the world as we know it today started. Then in a couple of chapters, the book tries to touch all other important aspects of social life: policies, economics, law and order. These are very wide and complex matters, though, and the book only touches them by. The soar and fall of the KKK, important trials that impacted on the society's perception of themselves Scottsboro, Sacco and Vanzetti , natural catastrophes that affected entire sections of the population the Dust Bowl , the attitude and real situation of criminal life, the attitude toward immigration All of these is dealt with with great essentiality and the reader is left wanting to know more.

And this is a shame, although I understand the author had to make a choice about the subject matter. The last third of the book deals with the Thirties and the Great Depression. It starts off with a very vivid description of the onset of the Depression and the way it affected people's life. It explains in a clear, simple way maybe even too simplified, but I won't complain about that what caused the stockmarket crash, and how the psychological and emotional reaction of people affected it as well as an objective economic difficulty. It describes in essential, but very vivid details, and with scant or no statistics, what life was for a great part of people.

It was nearly more a narration than dissertation. The last chapter then relates the work of the New Deal. It is essentially a chart of the many initiatives the government took to relief people's life, with brief dissertations of why those measures were taken and how people reacted to them. A bit dry, maybe also because of the heavy statistics , but interesting all the same.

Again statistics, again considerations, again a look to the same communities the book opened with and to the changes they had been through in the Twenties and Thirties. Overall, a very interesting book. Maybe more valuable for people interested in the Twenties than the Thirties the Great Depression is dealt with in an admittedly extremely essential way , but certainly enough to get a good overall grasp to life during these two decades.

Sep 08, Jay rated it liked it. It's not obvious here in the 21st Century, but the period between and in the United States saw cultural and, especially, technological changes almost as profound as the effect of the Internet and personal computers in the s. In those 20 years, as Prof. Kyvig points out with meticulously researched and irrefutable figures, America went from a mostly rural, non-electrified, culturally diverse loose collection of peoples to a much more homogeneous, industrialized, technically savvy si It's not obvious here in the 21st Century, but the period between and in the United States saw cultural and, especially, technological changes almost as profound as the effect of the Internet and personal computers in the s.

Kyvig points out with meticulously researched and irrefutable figures, America went from a mostly rural, non-electrified, culturally diverse loose collection of peoples to a much more homogeneous, industrialized, technically savvy single nation. The proliferation of the internal combustion engine brought us not only the automobile, with its massive impact on the layout of our cities and dwindling sense of isolation between parts of the country; but also the tractor which freed up countless man-hours of previously back-breaking human- and animal-powered labor, and allowed many times more land to come under cultivation, which in turn led to greater prosperity and the ability for America to feed many more citizens.

Likewise the phonograph and, even more so, radio and cinema, exposed people to the cultures of other parts of the United States, and by the outbreak of World War II had well begun to unify the regions into a single "American" culture.

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This trend was accelerated by the drop-off in immigration during and after World War I, as the previous wave of immigrants assimilated and had American-born children who identified more closely with their American homeland. The last half of this book is preoccupied--rightly--with the Great Depression and its effects on the economy, on family life, on the culture, and most of all, on the federal government and its relationship to the citizenry. And here's where Prof. Kyvig loses me a little, because he touts all the reasons that the expansion of the federal government was good and highlights where all the new and in many cases unconstitutional programs and agencies helped mitigate the misery of the Depression; but he never once goes into why the unbridled growth of government and its interference in Americans' lives might not have been an unalloyed good.

He mentions a couple of times, in passing, that some people opposed certain of FDR's initiatives; but he never takes the time to explain why they might have had a point, he just hints that these people were bad actors who spoke up for purely partisan political reasons, and leaves it at that. He never brings up the argument, made many times in the subsequent decades most convincingly by Prof. But despite my dim view of Prof.

Kyvig's take on the federal approach to solving the depression, I found this book overall to be delightfully informative and impeccably well and deeply researched. It's tightly written as well, not full of academic jargon but in colorful, short sentences. It's easy and pleasant to digest even one of the longer chapters in a short sitting. And while the first couple of chapters may be a bit long on the statistics, they help build a solid foundation for the more personal and anecdotal chapters which follow.

Dec 10, Alexandra rated it it was ok Shelves: history. Mixed bag. I liked the sections about food, education esp. Most especially, I liked the section about the country becoming more electrified, the uneven implementation took until the s for rural areas to catch up , and the ways it really changed life Muncie, Indiana's library loaned out 8 times books per i Mixed bag.

Good Writing. Serious e-Reading.

Most especially, I liked the section about the country becoming more electrified, the uneven implementation took until the s for rural areas to catch up , and the ways it really changed life Muncie, Indiana's library loaned out 8 times books per inhabitant more in than it had in Otherwise, the book is kind of a dud, especially the first and last chapters, and the radio and movie chapters which I was expecting to enjoy. Jul 26, Heather Muzik rated it it was amazing. Call me a nerd, but I loved this one.

I found it to be a truly eye-opening history of these decades. This period began the harmonizing of the American experience. I was shocked by the details about southern progress and how behind the region was in regards to the creature comforts of the day. This historical reference focuses on such elemental parts of life that my classes in school never covered. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip through general stores and catalogs and department stores and to the Call me a nerd, but I loved this one.

I thoroughly enjoyed the trip through general stores and catalogs and department stores and to the family dinner table. Apr 13, Cathleen Holst rated it it was amazing. I really enjoyed this book. The first chapter and half were a bit slow, filled with statistics from census reports, but after that things really picked up and became incredibly interesting. There were a few parts where my eyes glazed over, mainly when the topic was the stock market, but overall this book gave me almost all the info and then some that led me to pick up the book in the first place.

If you're looking to understand how ordinary families lived during the depression and up to the br I really enjoyed this book. If you're looking to understand how ordinary families lived during the depression and up to the brink of WWII, I highly recommend this book. Jan 24, Amy rated it really liked it. For nonfiction, this book definitely possessed a well-organized narrative that described domestic developments and everyday living from I know that the reason many of my fellow reader friends tend to stay away from such forms of nonfiction includes that one, very perceptive fact that these books can often be dryer than the Sahara Desert.

Been there, done that. Also, it's a reminder of everything they didn't like about history classes in school. However, I want to counter this thought For nonfiction, this book definitely possessed a well-organized narrative that described domestic developments and everyday living from So much culture erupted and forever changed the landscape of American life during these 20 crucial years that I feel it is important to understand them from an all-encompassing approach.

Each chapter is separated into different forms of cultural development, such as the impact of the automobile, cinema, or radio, while also looking at daily functioning and changes within the household, such as consumer changes in buying with the onset of advertising, and dating behaviors becoming more of an independent, casual pursuit with the indoctrination of cars majority of households.

As I stated, there is a narrative quality to this book that gives it meaning for those who are more proficient with fiction and storytelling styles, mixing chronological onset of events and shifts with the impact of major cultural events, such as the major effects of the Great Depression on daily life for Americans.

Importantly, ethnic differences in these shifts are also covered, as to talk about the American landscape would not be complete without analyzing impacts on various cultural, ethnic, and national groups. For anyone attempting to begin reading historical nonfiction, this is a great book along with The Worst Hard Time to begin that journey. May 19, Wes Brummer rated it really liked it. I used this book as research for my novel "Dust and roses. A lot of subjects are covered; movies, radio, politics. Your interests will determine your level of interest on certain chapters.

For me the chapters on radio, movies, and the role of electricity was very interesting. The roots of the Great Depr I used this book as research for my novel "Dust and roses. The roots of the Great Depression a bit less so. Because the country has so many different cultures the book could have been bigger yet, but it would have gotten bogged in detail. It is a great survey of history that tends to slip between the cracks of other books.

Some chapters were dry, mainly because of my low interest in that subject, but, for completeness, it needed to be Still a lot of jun to read. If you have the interest, be sure to read it. I'm especially glad that I chose to pick this book up now, because I think the author's premise that the 20's and 30's was truly when modern America was formed it easier to see now than ever before. Current parallels with the xenophobia and conformism of the past were brought into sharp focus through this reading. Radio, movies, unions, automobiles, manufacturing, diet, education, leisure Everything imaginable is covered.

This was a dense book because it truly attempted to be an exhaustive stu I'm especially glad that I chose to pick this book up now, because I think the author's premise that the 20's and 30's was truly when modern America was formed it easier to see now than ever before. This was a dense book because it truly attempted to be an exhaustive study of life in the 20's and 30's. It took a while for me to read it, but I enjoyed the comprehensive array of facts and statistics, and though it was information packed on every page, I didn't find it dry.

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I only wish other people I knew were reading it so we could discuss it. Oct 30, Nadir rated it liked it. This isn't a textbook, but at times it reads like one, quoting statistics of the depression era fairly regularly. Despite that it is a broad-ranging look into the lives of Americans as technology improved while the economy worsened. The number of passages that could, with minor adjustments, be taken out of today's headlines is the most compelling part of the book.

It certainly makes one wonder if indeed past is prologue. It seems very unlikely than an FDR waits in the wings to "fix" all that ail This isn't a textbook, but at times it reads like one, quoting statistics of the depression era fairly regularly. It seems very unlikely than an FDR waits in the wings to "fix" all that ails America today, though. I suspect more of the 'bad times' described in the book will be seen before that FDR ever comes along.

Jul 11, Mike rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Anyone with a Brain. When I started reading it, I was a little wary. Statements like "In the 's inventions such as the radio and the vaccuum cleaner came to be seen as necessities However, after the first couple of chapters the information was significantly better even if the writing sounded mostly like a textbook. I found myself wondering how anyone even remotely familiar with the Great Depression can look at the current state of our n When I started reading it, I was a little wary.


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  • I found myself wondering how anyone even remotely familiar with the Great Depression can look at the current state of our national affairs and not use the D-word. Aug 21, Kathy Petersen rated it really liked it Shelves: x-febthru-jan , read-non-fiction. He packs it with statistics, which I find interesting if well written and to the point, as done here. Nov 06, Lisa Kucharski rated it it was amazing. Nothing could totally encapsulate and explain to in the USA but this book does an awesome job of taking specific elements that spanned the daily life of people and gave you a look at the lives of everyday people.

    It focuses on everyday people and how they lived, giving some distinction of the difference between rural and urban sites and the difference of north to south. Would highly recommend the book to anyone interested in how history was lived, and not just simply telling the story Nothing could totally encapsulate and explain to in the USA but this book does an awesome job of taking specific elements that spanned the daily life of people and gave you a look at the lives of everyday people.

    Would highly recommend the book to anyone interested in how history was lived, and not just simply telling the story of conquerors. Sep 08, Kathy rated it really liked it. The first chapter is a bit tedious, but once you get through that, the rest of this book is extremely interesting.

    Daily Life in the United States, : David E. Kyvig :

    I really enjoyed following the social changes caused by technology, such as how the automobile gave teenagers a private place to neck, thus killing the 'sitting in the parlor' supervised while courting. This book is an amazing base for any historian or vintage enthusiast for the early 20th century. Aug 13, Gregory T.

    Janetka rated it really liked it.