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New York in the 50's
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New York in the 50's

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  63 ratings  ·  12 reviews
New York in the 50s is Dan Wakefield's story of a unique time and place in cultural history, when New York City was a hotbed of free love, hot jazz, radical politics, psychoanalysis, and artistic expression. Wakefield found himself in the middle of a world in which anything was possible, and he writes about the era with the keen eye of a historian and the first-hand knowle ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published February 15th 1999 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1992)
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Enjoyable firsthand account from a journalist of his life in "the Village" among an intimate community of writers and other artists. For someone who knew JD Salinger before he became a recluse, had Jack Kerouac pass out on his couch, and otherwise went pub-hopping with the "Who's who" of the literary world of the times, Wakefield manages to check his ego at the door and write genuine, balanced essays after years of hindsight. He gives credit for the fellow writers he valued and their sometimes m ...more
Really great read. Dan Wakefield is a great writer - even when he was discussing subjects I was less invested in, I was compelled to read carefully due to his prose. The sections on McCarthy era, jazz during the 50s and abortion were pretty eye-opening and a great reminder of how far we've come. Strong rec for anyone interested in this period.
Geoff Balme

Dan Wakefield is that "Going All the Way" guy, also the fellow who edited old Kurt Vonnegut's Letter's book. I didn't know about him until I was rereading a favorable review from Vonnegut of Wakefield's (1970) book about romance and hijinks surrounding returning from the Korean war service.

In this book Wakefield sheds considerable light on the place and times in Greenwich Village, he manages to touch on all the highlights, getting a writing job, the Beats, Jazz and the general atmosphere of soc
I know folks who move to New York and liked it have a certain haughtiness about the city, but Wakefield is over the top. If you became an adult in the 1950s and didn't move to New York, you had no guts or no brains or neither. (Hope that's correct grammar). In fact, the first chapter largely consists of quoting people who moved there, how they got their, and their idea that it was the only reasonable thing for an intelligent person to do.

Is there a word that's the equivalent of hagiography, but
I was hoping to get a little more genuine history, although the chapter with a first-hand account of working with Dorothy Day was especially good. The personal anecdotes aren't that bad and they're padded out a bit with some from other writers but by and large it's just a whole lot of white hetero folks (James Baldwin excepted) talking about the good/bad old days.
Judy Gacek
The fifties were a moment in time. It was a time when the nation was pretty much culturally on the same page. People were conformists, connected. and prosperous. NYC was the center of the world and everything started there. This book does a good job of describing what it was like. It was a very happy trip down memory lane to revisit those times.
keith koenigsberg
the book jacket accurately says: "This is his memoir of '50s Manhattan, a charmed, gentle, evocative re-creation of a time when sex was more talked about than done (and when done, was done in secret), a time when psychoanalysis was hailed as the new religion, booze was the soporific, Esquire and the Village Voice the journalistic pacesetters, jazz the music." I say: A charming and romantic but certainly rose-colored tour of the characters he rubbed shoulders with in the heyday of the beats.
The writing was somewhat artless, which was both good -- not gushy or overly romantic, which would have been the kiss of death for the subject -- but also not fiercely compelling. Still, overall it was a fun read. It relates to my job in a kind of tangential and interesting way -- these are the old guys I work for -- so I was in the market for this kind of reminiscence. And the chapter on sex and Freudian analysis cracked me up.
Dan Wakefield is a thorough, weathered writer. In this memoir, he gave the reader a glimpse of his personal experiences in New York during the 1950s, meeting other writers and living the life of a journalist.
Jessie B.
Part history, part memoir, this book offers a interesting perspective on the 50's that is not conservative but also not part of the beat movement.
A fast, fun memoir, full of midcentury Greenwich Village gossip.
I enjoyed this alot. Different take on a different time.
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