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Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  270 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
From the author of the critically acclaimed England’s Dreaming, a landmark cultural history of youth

Teenagers —as we have come to define them —were not, award-winning author Jon Savage tells us, born in the 1950s of rockers and Beatniks, when most histories would begin. Rather, the teenager as icon can be traced back to the 1890s, when the foundations for the new century

Hardcover, 576 pages
Published April 19th 2007 by Viking Adult (first published January 1st 2007)
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1984 by George OrwellThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldA Clockwork Orange by Anthony BurgessLolita by Vladimir NabokovThe Iliad by Homer
David Bowie's Top 100 Must Read Books
66th out of 100 books — 232 voters
Teenage by Jon SavageThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot DíazA Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy TooleThe Coast of Utopia by Tom StoppardFingersmith by Sarah Waters
David Bowie's top 75
1st out of 72 books — 4 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,949)
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May 06, 2015 Dave rated it liked it
I wasn't really sure what to expect with this one. I figured it'd probably have an annoying amount of pop culture trivia and nostalgic narratives but hoped it'd also get into things like legitimate rebellion against authority versus rebelling just because it's fun, examples of youth groups being hijacked or surreptitiously created by business interests, constant change keeping generations from interacting with each other, kids rejecting everything about their parents' lifestyles instead of just ...more
Feb 04, 2012 Jodi rated it liked it
I wavered between three and four stars on this book. On the one hand, there was a lot of fascinating facts, but on the other hand, it was interspersed with some very dull sections. Even though I learned a lot, it bugged me that Savage at times held up examples of the minority and then applied their actions with sweeping generalization to all adolescents. He even says in his introduction, "It may be argued that I have concentrated too much on the extraordinary rather than the ordinary, the extrem ...more
Ken Dowell
Jan 14, 2016 Ken Dowell rated it liked it
While this book covers the period 1875-1945 I found the most interesting parts to be the chapters covering the times of the two world wars and the depression. These were tough times for young people who, when they weren’t being treated as cannon fodder, were always last hired, first fired. The author, who is British, covers the adolescent scene in the United States, France and Germany as well as the U.K. Unlike most social histories that focus on the prevailing majority, Savage devotes a lot of ...more
Jack Bates
Feb 03, 2016 Jack Bates rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You were a teenager once, and so were your parents - and if you're younger than me, your grandparents too. But how did teenagers develop? Where did they come from and what formed them? How were they different from people who had their teens before the term was coined? An investigation into the development of 'the teenager' as a concept, focussing on America, Britain, and Germany.

Savage's book about punk, England's Dreaming, is one of my favourite explorations of pop culture and this is just as
Apr 12, 2008 Tosh rated it it was amazing
Jon Savage (once again) did another amazing book. His book on British punk is essential, but this one - the history of the 'Teenager." And it is so hardcore that it stops in the 1950's, where most thinks the Teenage became 'teenage.' A remarkable history and the parts about the Hitler Youth is fascinating as well as disturbing. Savage is great.
Nov 28, 2008 Tim rated it it was ok
Jon Savage's history of teenage from the 1860's or so thru the mid-1900's. Couldn't finish it...just didn't have the gumption. Savage can be & is a great writer but I wasn't interested enough in what this book has to offer. Disappointed. A bit too much sociology for me & not enough story telling.
Mar 20, 2014 Sinead rated it liked it
Dipped into this book when I was doing my degree many years ago and I gained some useful information from it while enjoying the lighthearted way the author wrote. Decided to go back to it to have a further read of those sections I had missed at that time. I was a little disappointed to be honest - the author was a little judgemental at times and some of the points made were a bit cliche. However, that aside, it did include some details that I hadn't known so made it an interesting read at points ...more
Apr 25, 2014 Rj rated it liked it
Savage places the development of the teenage as a cultural construct from the late 19th-century to the present. Looking at it comparatively he studies Great Britain, France, Germany and the United States. Looking at film, literature, academic writing and popular culture this is an important book for anyone interested in the development of Western culture.

"The buccaneering individuality of the early nineteenth-century had become obsolete: it had fled across the Atlantic to the American frontier.
Aug 21, 2009 Cassy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in YA lit
The book was actually fascinating if you enjoy learning about the teenage culture. It traced the development of the adolescent age group from the early 1890s to 1945. Savage talks about several youth organizations, such as the Boy Scouts, and their impact on the youth of the time. He talks about how young adults really had no voice until the first world war came around. You were either a child or an adult and there wasn't much in between. He focused on America and Europe through the time periods ...more
Lacy Compton
May 19, 2011 Lacy Compton rated it really liked it
I picked up "Teenage" several years ago and flipped it open to use one chapter for a bit of research. It's been sitting on my shelf as one of those "to tackle" books for quite some time, and I'm so glad I finally did. "Teenage" traces youth culture and the history of the terms "adolescent" and "teenager" from the 1870s to 1945. At first, I was in shock that Savage didn't cover anything more recent, but once I hit the 20th century, I could understand why--teenagers have evolved incredibly since t ...more
Oct 26, 2008 Nickie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An account of the changing fortunes of youth between 1875 and 1945 and the often confused reaction of the state and the media to a group that have always been difficult to control and understand - at once exploited, venerated and vilified, depending on the time they're living in (today's media being a case in point that not much has changed here). The book's a bit thin on the ground before WW1, but from there it's a good read - the disillusion that followed WW1, resulting in the Bright Young Thi ...more
Aug 26, 2007 Cat rated it really liked it
Shelves: culturalhistory
Author Jon Savage is best noted for writing what many consider to be the definitive history of punk rock- "England's Dreaming" (personally, I prefer Greil Marcus's "Lipstick Traces".) In "Teenage"- his new book- he gets all ambitious. Teenage is a straight forward social history of what Savage calls "the creation of youth culture." One of the facts i learned this book, was that socialologist/philosopher Talcott Parsons coined the term "youth culture" in 1943.

I think this book is a must read for
Mar 15, 2013 Mark rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
An informative and worthwhile read that unravels our pop culture world, showing its origins and development up through 1945 -- the year that marked the beginning of the Teen Age. Insightful (material prosperity is a vice when disconnected from a moral foundation), disturbing (Nazi Youth; American cliques), inspiring (youth groups defied totalitarian regimes with greater or lesser success -- my favorites were the Zazous of France and Helmuth Hubener of Germany), and presents moral dilemmas (jazz ...more
May 06, 2014 Pete rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Strange to think of the Nazis as a youth movement, but they were, apparently. Strange, too, to imagine a time when "teenager" was not a label with its own unique attributes. When I was 4 or 5 years old--this is one of my oldest and vaguest memories--my mom was driving me somewhere, and a guy with a mohawk was standing at a bus stop. I asked, "Why are all teenagers bad?" I've occasionally reflected on that query, which seems to me to indicate how thoroughly the ideas of teenagers as rebels and re ...more
May 05, 2015 Marcella rated it really liked it
Um dos livros que pautaram a minha monografia. Poderia ter lido só um ou dois capítulos, mas achei tão sensacional que comprei o livro todo e li muito - inclusive largando uns comments nas laterais das páginas.
Mar 09, 2014 Josh rated it liked it
A nice overview of the creation of adolescence as a phase of life. A bit dry for my taste -- it's history not a novel -- but covers an incredible amount of ground (across continents and decades).
Nov 09, 2008 Channing rated it it was amazing
Jon Savage went to Cambridge, but instead of doing what Cambridge grads normally do, he started writing reviews of punk shows for "Sounds" magazine, moved to Manchester where he befriended a new band called Joy Division and a scruffy young folk guitarist named Johnny Marr, and ultimately stumbled into becoming one of the finest Anglo-American pop culture commentators of the late 20th century. His book on punk, England's Dreaming, is THE definitive work on the genre and its origins.

Teenage takes
Sep 30, 2008 Miki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating and heartbreaking, especially when you learn how the "muscular Christianity" ethic & militarization of schools in Britain and in Germany during the late 1800s and early 1900s contributed to the fervent pro-war culture that ended up slaughtering millions of young people in World War I. It's even more heartbreaking as you read about the whole thing happening again in the lead-up to WWII.
It's also riveting, reading about the sensationalist media in the U.S. during the late 1800s an
Mark Stalcup
Jan 08, 2010 Mark Stalcup rated it really liked it
Fascinating, broad-ranging study of teenage culture's development in the early part of the 20th Century, with an encyclopedic and extensive sprawl across everything from WWI England to American jazz and zoot suits all the way to Nazi Germany, the Hitler Youth, and the teen jazz fanatics and students who opposed them, often at the cost of their lives. Savage has the terrific ability to meld pop culture with a historian and academic's incisive skill, and this is a thick book reads very quickly. We ...more
A. Thurman
Dec 13, 2011 A. Thurman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A good introductory history of youth, youth culture, and how adults reacted to them before there was a designated demographic of "teenager" (i.e. pre-1950s). Especially interesting were the chapters about youth in the immediate aftermath of WWI, particularly in Europe - the flappers and bright young things partied so hard in an effort to forget. Not as readable as a novel but certainly not dry academic reading either - recommended.
Jul 19, 2012 Aaron rated it liked it
Pretty good. A potted history of adolescence that skips through 100 or so years of history without focusing to heavily on any one era. The general vibe is that 'the more things change - the more they stay the same'. Some nice insights into how teens were manipulated in times of war (Hitler Youth etc). A wee bit dry in parts (would have been nice to include a few more first hand accounts). On the whole - pretty insightful.
Dec 10, 2007 Summer rated it really liked it
A very long and thorough book about the emergence of "teenagers" as sort of a subculture in the first half of the 20th century. The focus is mostly on America, England, France, and Germany, I guess to bring everything together under the all-encompassing mantle of World War II by the end, though it would have been nice to read something about teenagers from other countries, or to just focus on one country and go very in-depth.
Apr 04, 2014 Crysta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-work, research
This is a dense book. Certain sections were much more interesting to me than others, but on the whole, it covers the development of "teenagers" as a social group quite well. Lots of examples of extreme cases; as I am teaching this book to high schoolers, I make sure to point this out. Quite excited for the documentary - this felt like it desperately needed a CD of photos, songs, and movie clips to accompany it.
morning Os
Nov 13, 2009 morning Os rated it it was amazing
Great social history, and finally(!) a nice comparison of the British, German, and American youth. Well, it's not really a comparison but it's a transnational yet coherent narrative. I should buy this book for future reference. Each chapter is short, and the chapters are connected to each other but totally readable individually, so it is easy to assign one or a bunch of chapters to undergraduates.
Jessica Moore
Jul 11, 2014 Jessica Moore rated it it was amazing
Great read, very informative, but Savage makes it interesting. Just took a lot of persistence to finish at is incredibly long!
Oct 07, 2009 David rated it really liked it
Very interesting history of the teenager, from before the term was used (before the turn of the 20th Century) to when the term and concept became important (in post Second World War USA and Europe).

In a nutshell 2 things created a separate "culture" for youth - the 2 World Wars (when those not fighting began to group or be organized) and the post-WWII consumer boom in the US.
Sep 08, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it
A heavy but still really fun look at youth culture and subcultures in western Europe and America from the 1870s to the end of World War 2. Not many books cover that material, being more concerned with the rebellion of 60s counterculture or punk. If you want to know about people who were cool before that, check this out.
Jul 28, 2007 Joseph rated it really liked it
If you think that the idea of the teenager is a post-WWII phenomenom, then you will definitely need to read this book. Savage moves from 1860s all the way to WWII to show that the time between childhood and adulthood was hard fought for recognition.
Savage demonstrates how modern warfare and the need to rely on mass conscription of the youths gave rise to the concept of adolescence as a separate life stage. A lively and enlightening account, even if a little repetitive.
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