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What It Felt Like: Living in the American Century
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What It Felt Like: Living in the American Century

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  47 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
This treasure of a book gives us a vivid and captivating evocation of the social, cultural, and spiritual tenor of the 20th century, decade by remarkable decade. Each of the ten chapters is a virtual time capsule which reminds, as we plunge headlong into the future, of the richness and importance of our past. Illustrations throughout.
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published October 3rd 2000 by Pantheon (first published 2000)
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Jul 28, 2009 residentoddball rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-it
By no means a mere chronological history of events, this book carries you through each decade of the last century like a ride whirling you through a Small World at Disney, but with tremendous substance and profound significance. It's the literary form of watching a filmstrip of the American landscape and its society; Snapshots of "now" from ten different eras.

What It Felt Like describes quite vividly what it indeed must have felt like to live in the 20th Century, honing in on the vibe of the tim
Jan 28, 2008 Terry rated it it was amazing
REad it. he takes every decade of the American Century, and you hear the music, smell the streets. Very evocative
Hank Stuever
Aug 17, 2013 Hank Stuever rated it it was amazing
When the odometer on the 20th century was nearing the rollover point to the 21st, the Washington Post assigned Henry Allen (or Henry assigned himself?) to tackle the impossible job of putting each of the century's decades into some sort of elegant summary. Henry focused on a guiding principal -- What did it feel like to be alive in the 1910s? The '20s? etc. -- and began reporting. The series ran in September 1999, right as I joined the Style section staff, and is reprinted here. The pieces were ...more
Feb 26, 2015 Yvonne rated it really liked it
A must read for those who enjoy history, the author takes you through the last century decade by decade you are given the sights, sounds, smell and feel of each decade.

I love the quote from Charles Baudelaire that the author starts the book off, he said that each age has "a department, a glance, a smile of its own."

Apr 29, 2011 TrumanCoyote rated it liked it
A very intriguing idea, though almost impossible to pull off. I really thought he might do it though for a while there. First half is definitely better than the second, which progressively deteriorates until we get to the final two chapters, little more than a diatribe/screed (not an evocation). Still, lots of fun old expressions ("Well, aren't you a sketch?" and so forth).
David Ward
Jan 25, 2016 David Ward rated it liked it
What It Felt Like: Living in the American Century by Henry Allen (Pantheon Books 2000) (973.9). The author paints evocative pictures of each decade of the twentieth century to help the reader understand the tone and tenor of America at each point in the century. My rating: 7/10, finished 2001.
Sep 13, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
I love the poetry of this book. I enjoy reading it over and over again. Each chapter captures a different decade from the 20th century, so I can pick a decade at random and enjoy all the wonderful images of the time that Allen's creatively descriptive writing invokes.
Sep 22, 2015 Crysta rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-politics
Charming little book, with evocative vignettes from each decade of the 20th century. It's not a linear history, but rather the things that mattered to those who lived through it, and what they did, smelled, said, worried about, and rejoiced over.
Scott Whitney
Apr 26, 2011 Scott Whitney rated it liked it
This book started out as a happy book, then the realities of life since the 60s came into sharp focus. It made me remember what life was like and that was not a happy thing. It is very well written and has the ability to take the reader back to a time before the turn of the century.
Jun 06, 2010 Dave rated it really liked it
Written in a way that helps you really feel what it felt like. It made me feel happy and I enjoyed it very much.
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