Story of a Decade
The cultural and political history of the 1950s, as told by the New Yorker.
The 1950s are enshrined in the popular imagination as the decade of poodle skirts and “I Like Ike.” But this was also a complex time, in which the afterglow of Total Victory firmly gave way to Cold War paranoia. A sense of trepidation grew with the Suez Crisis and the H-bomb tests. At the same time, the fifties marked the cultural emergence of extraordinary new energies, like those of Thelonious Monk, Sylvia Plath and Tennessee Williams.
The New Yorker was there in real time, chronicling the tensions and innovations that lay beneath the era’s placid surface. In this thrilling volume, classic works of reportage, criticism, and fiction are complemented by new contributions from the magazine’s present all-star line-up of writers, including Jonathan Franzen, Malcolm Gladwell, and Jill Lepore.
Here are indelible accounts of the decade’s most exciting players: Truman Capote on Marlon Brando as a pampered young star; Berton Roueché on Jackson Pollock in his first flush of fame. Ernest Hemingway, Emily Post, Bobby Fischer, and Leonard Bernstein are also brought to vivid life in these pages.
Among the audacious young writers who began publishing in the fifties was one who would become a stalwart for the magazine for fifty-five years: John Updike. Also featured here are great early works from Philip Roth and Nadine Gordimer, as well as startling poems by Theodore Roethke and Anne Sexton.
Completing the panoply are insightful and entertaining new pieces by present day New Yorker contributors examining the 1950s through contemporary eyes.
“A magnificent anthology”
“[A] fascinating volume…More than just a time capsule, this collection features journalism at its most powerful.”
Compass magazine, best of this winter's books
“Superb: a gift that keeps on giving and a fine introduction to the life and letters of a supposedly (but not really) gray decade.”