Dar's Reviews > Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture

Teenage by Jon Savage
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bookshelves: nonfiction, reading-down-the-house-2, social-science

I am glad I read this but I really had to persevere. It was written in a somewhat scholarly manner with lots of sources and footnotes; not my usual recreational reading. Assuming it was written as a "popular" social history, it made for dense reading. Here's an example:

Within America, the simultaneous commercial exploitation and attempted control of youth gave rise to a paradox. The deep-mining of the psyche encouraged by advertisers began to throw up those very atavistic qualities that they were attempting to channel through the creation of a society based around the accumulation of objects and comforts. Social control through consumerism might have been more benign than through totalitarian methods, but it set up different kinds of distortions that were increasingly enacted in the deep oscillation between hedonism and puritanism.

The author is known for his book England's Dreaming, a history of UK punk. We have that book in the house so I started reading it to see if it was also hard going, but it wasn't.

The social movements centred around young men, but the author took pains to include an example from the life of a of young woman, where possible. I wondered how the same content would have been presented if written by a woman. I was also surprised by the continued use of the word Negroes throughout the book - which was published in 2007. Just because that term was in use between 1870 and 1945 doesn't mean it is appropriate now when describing people of African or African American descent.

The story increasingly grabbed my interest though. It traces the rise of youth cultures from the 1870s to 1945, with fascinating chapters on street gangs, Scouting, fans of jazz and swing, the Roaring 20s, the Depression, and a lengthy section on the rise of Hitler Youth and the effects of war. It compared and contrasted youth in the UK, Germany, France and the US. I learned a lot about the popular and political history of each decade. The book concludes with moving accounts of the life and death of Anne Frank and the end of WW2, along with a glimpse of the coming consumer culture.

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Reading Progress

October 13, 2018 – Shelved
October 13, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
October 13, 2018 – Shelved as: nonfiction
October 13, 2018 – Shelved as: reading-down-the-house-2
October 13, 2018 – Shelved as: social-science
February 3, 2019 – Started Reading
February 19, 2019 –
page 236
March 26, 2019 – Finished Reading

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