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The Big Change: America Transforms Itself 1900-1950
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The Big Change: America Transforms Itself 1900-1950

3.51  ·  Rating Details ·  37 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
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 am ...more
Paperback, 322 pages
Published January 1st 1993 by Transaction Publishers (first published January 1st 1952)
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Jul 14, 2016 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Summary: A social history of the United States from 1900 to 1950 chronicling the expansion of the middle class, the technological changes that occurred, and the impact of two World Wars and the Depression.

Want to know what life was like for your grandparents or great grandparents, and the changes they saw in their lifetimes? This is a great book for understanding what the U.S. was like during the first half of the Twentieth Century. It was fascinating for me, as someone born two years after this
Donna Davis
2.5 rounded up. The Big Change was a National Book Award finalist back in the day as well as a New York Times bestseller. I was invited to read and review it now that it’s being released in digital form; thanks go to Net Galley and Open Road Integrated Media. I’ve read and reviewed more than 50 titles for this publisher, and they’ve been wonderfully tolerant when I have written less than glowing praise for a book such as this, whose shelf life is well and truly over. This title is available for ...more
Emmett Hoops
Apr 03, 2016 Emmett Hoops rated it really liked it
I'm a big fan of Frederick Lewis Allen. He was the editor of Harper's Magazine for about 12 years, so there's a lot of his stuff out there (if you're a Harper's subscriber, you have access to 150 years of magazine archives.) Allen wrote a series of articles for Harper's in 1950, and these became the foundation for his ambitious book.

Allen begins by giving a very convincing account of what life was like in 1900. He provides details that don't normally get into the history books, such as when he
Nov 12, 2008 Bob rated it liked it
An interesting, evenhanded review of the years 1900-1950, written in the early 1950s. Covers a lot of ground in an easy, readable style, though some of his judgments might strike a modern reader as hopelessly naive and a Christian reader as too hopeful in what secular humanity can deliver.
Mar 25, 2008 Danjo rated it it was amazing
Going well so far. Not quite so enlightening as Only Yesterday, but that may be because I'm recovering recently tread ground here. The account of domestic restraint with regards to patriotism during WWII was completely new to me, and almost inspiring.

-Finished it and found the conclusion immensely stirring. Terms that are still tossed about casually now are recognized fifty years ago as outdated. Terms like capitalism, socialism, radical, and conservative do not really describe anything at work
Jul 30, 2010 Simone rated it liked it
Haha, there's nothing like reading a book about the big changes in the United States that was written in 1952. This guy clearly laments the lack of the ten course meal (and the rise of something he calls "the casserole dinner party) and the rising acceptability of blue jeans among young people. There's no real reason to read this, as the changes that have occurred are traced in better volumes, but his style is ridiculous.

As is the entire chapter on African Americans, in which he mentions slaver
Apr 12, 2011 Derek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting treatise on the socio-political, fashion, economic, & cultural history of the US from 1900 to 1950. A worthwhile read for the student interested in how America evolved in the first half of the 20th century.
Rob Salkowitz
Dec 16, 2008 Rob Salkowitz rated it really liked it
Great cultural-popular history that looks at changes in America, 1900-1950, from the vantage point of 1951! Amazing how Allen gets historical perspective on events of the (to him) very recent past.
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Frederick Lewis Allen (1890-1954) was born in Boston, studied at Groton, and graduated from Harvard in 1912. He was assistant and associate editor of Harper's Magazine for eighteen years, then the magazine's sixth editor in chief for twelve years until his death. In addition to The Lords of Creation, Allen was well known for Only Yesterday, Since Yesterday, and The Big Change.
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