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The Big Change : America Transforms Itself, 1900-50 - Frederick Lewis Allen

The Big Change

America Transforms Itself, 1900-50

Paperback Published: 30th January 1993
ISBN: 9781560006398
Number Of Pages: 324

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Frederick Lewis Allen was one of the pioneers in social history. Best known as the author of Only Yesterday, Allen originated a model of what is sometimes called instant history, the reconstruction of past eras through vivid commentary on the news, fashions, customs, and artifacts that altered the pace and forms of American life. The Big Change was Allen's last and most ambitious book. In it he attempted to chart and explain the progressive evolution of American life over half a century. Written at a time of unprecedented optimism and prosperity, The Big Change defines a transformative moment in American history and provides an implicit and illuminating perspective on what has taken place in the second half of the twentieth century.

Allen's theme is the realization, in large measure, of the promise of democracy. As against the strain of social criticism that saw America as enfeebled by affluence and conformity, Allen wrote in praise of an economic system that had ushered in a new age of well being for the American people. He divides his inquiry into three major sections. The first, "The Old Order," portrays the turn-of-the-century plutocracy in which the federal government was largely subservient to business interests and the gap between rich and poor portended a real possibility of bloody rebellion. "The Momentum of Change" graphically describes the various forces that gradually transformed the country in the new century: mass production, the automobile, the Great Depression and the coming of big government, World War II and America's emergence as a world power. Against this background, Allen shows how the economic system was reformed without being ruined, and how social gaps began to steadily close.

The concluding section, "The New America," is a hopeful assessment of postwar American culture. Allen's analysis takes critical issue with many common perceptions, both foreign and domestic, of American life and places remaining social problems in careful perspective. As William O'Neill remarks in his introduction to this new edition, The Big Change is both a deep and wonderfully readable work of social commentary, a book that gains rather than loses with the years.

Introduction to the Transaction Edition
The Old Order
A New Century Beginsp. 3
Grandeur, Limitedp. 27
The Other Side of the Tracksp. 49
Capitalism Indeedp. 63
Government on the Sidelinesp. 81
The Momentum of Change
The Revolt of the American Consciencep. 95
The Dynamic Logic of Mass Productionp. 109
The Automobile Revolutionp. 121
Indian Summer of the Old Orderp. 131
The Great Depressionp. 145
The Reluctant World Powerp. 158
Ole Ark A'Moverin'p. 177
Faster, Fasterp. 187
More Americans, Living Longerp. 199
The New America
The All-American Standardp. 209
Corporations, New Stylep. 234
The Spirit of the Timesp. 259
What Have We Got Here?p. 284
Appendix: Sources and Obligationsp. 295
Indexp. 299
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9781560006398
ISBN-10: 1560006390
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 324
Published: 30th January 1993
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.86 x 15.32  x 2.39
Weight (kg): 0.45
Edition Type: Revised