The White Album: Essays

Open Road Media
18
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New York Times Bestseller: An “elegant” mosaic of trenchant observations on the late sixties and seventies from the author of Slouching Towards Bethlehem (The New Yorker).

In this landmark essay collection, Joan Didion brilliantly interweaves her own “bad dreams” with those of a nation confronting the dark underside of 1960s counterculture.
 
From a jailhouse visit to Black Panther Party cofounder Huey Newton to witnessing First Lady of California Nancy Reagan pretend to pick flowers for the benefit of news cameras, Didion captures the paranoia and absurdity of the era with her signature blend of irony and insight. She takes readers to the “giddily splendid” Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the cool mountains of Bogotá, and the Jordanian Desert, where Bishop James Pike went to walk in Jesus’s footsteps—and died not far from his rented Ford Cortina. She anatomizes the culture of shopping malls—“toy garden cities in which no one lives but everyone consumes”—and exposes the contradictions and compromises of the women’s movement. In the iconic title essay, she documents her uneasy state of mind during the years leading up to and following the Manson murders—a terrifying crime that, in her memory, surprised no one.
 
Written in “a voice like no other in contemporary journalism,” The White Album is a masterpiece of literary reportage and a fearless work of autobiography by the National Book Award–winning author of The Year of Magical Thinking (The New York Times Book Review). Its power to electrify and inform remains undiminished nearly forty years after it was first published.
 
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About the author

Joan Didion is the author of five novels, ten works of nonfiction, and a play. Her books include Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Play It as It Lays, The White Album, The Year of Magical Thinking, and, most recently, South and West: From a Notebook. Born in Sacramento, California, she lives in New York City.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Open Road Media
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Published on
May 9, 2017
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Pages
224
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ISBN
9781504045667
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / 20th Century
Literary Collections / Essays
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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The United States at the turn of the twentieth century cultivated a passion for big. It witnessed the emergence of large-scale corporate capitalism; the beginnings of American imperialism on a global stage; record-level immigration; a rapid expansion of cities; and colossal events and structures like world's fairs, amusement parks, department stores, and skyscrapers. Size began to play a key role in American identity. During this period, bigness signaled American progress.

These Days of Large Things explores the centrality of size to American culture and national identity and the preoccupation with physical stature that pervaded American thought. Clarke examines the role that body size played in racial theory and the ways in which economic changes in the nation generated conflicting attitudes toward growth and bigness. Finally, Clarke investigates the relationship between stature and gender.

These Days of Large Things brings together a remarkable range of cultural material including scientific studies, photographs, novels, cartoons, architecture, and film. As a general cultural and intellectual history of the period, this work will be of interest to students and scholars in American studies, U.S. history, American literature, and gender studies.

Michael Tavel Clarke is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Calgary.

Cover photograph: "New York from Its Pinnacles," Alvin Langdon Coburn (1912). Courtesy of the George Eastman House.

"A fascinating study of the American preoccupation with physical size, this book charts new paths in the history of science, culture, and the body. A must-read for anyone puzzling over why Americans today love hulking SUVs, Mcmansions, and outsized masculine bodies."
---Lois Banner, University of Southern California

"From the Gilded Age through the Twenties, Clarke shows a nation-state obsessed with sheer size, ranging from the mammoth labor union to the 'Giant Incorporated Body' of the monopoly trust. These Days of Large Things links the towering Gibson Girl with the skyscraper, the pediatric regimen with stereotypes of the Jew. Spanning anthropology, medicine, architecture, business, and labor history, Clarke provides the full anatomy of imperial America and offers a model of cultural studies at its very best."
---Cecelia Tichi, Vanderbilt University

Hop on Pop showcases the work of a new generation of scholars—from fields such as media studies, literature, cinema, and cultural studies—whose writing has been informed by their ongoing involvement with popular culture and who draw insight from their lived experiences as critics, fans, and consumers. Proceeding from their deep political commitment to a new kind of populist grassroots politics, these writers challenge old modes of studying the everyday. As they rework traditional scholarly language, they search for new ways to write about our complex and compelling engagements with the politics and pleasures of popular culture and sketch a new and lively vocabulary for the field of cultural studies.
The essays cover a wide and colorful array of subjects including pro wrestling, the computer games Myst and Doom, soap operas, baseball card collecting, the Tour de France, karaoke, lesbian desire in the Wizard of Oz, Internet fandom for the series Babylon 5, and the stress-management industry. Broader themes examined include the origins of popular culture, the aesthetics and politics of performance, and the social and cultural processes by which objects and practices are deemed tasteful or tasteless. The commitment that binds the contributors is to an emergent perspective in cultural studies, one that engages with popular culture as the culture that "sticks to the skin," that becomes so much a part of us that it becomes increasingly difficult to examine it from a distance. By refusing to deny or rationalize their own often contradictory identifications with popular culture, the contributors ensure that the volume as a whole reflects the immediacy and vibrancy of its objects of study.
Hop on Pop will appeal to those engaged in the study of popular culture, American studies, cultural studies, cinema and visual studies, as well as to the general educated reader.

Contributors. John Bloom, Gerry Bloustein, Aniko Bodroghkozy, Diane Brooks, Peter Chvany, Elana Crane, Alexander Doty, Rob Drew, Stephen Duncombe, Nick Evans, Eric Freedman, Joy Fuqua, Tony Grajeda, Katherine Green, John Hartley, Heather Hendershot, Henry Jenkins, Eithne Johnson, Louis Kaplan, Maria Koundoura, Sharon Mazer, Anna McCarthy, Tara McPherson, Angela Ndalianis, Edward O’Neill, Catherine Palmer, Roberta Pearson, Elayne Rapping, Eric Schaefer, Jane Shattuc, Greg Smith, Ellen Strain, Matthew Tinkhom, William Uricchio, Amy Villarego, Robyn Warhol, Charles Weigl, Alan Wexelblat, Pamela Robertson Wojcik, Nabeel Zuberi

In this new volume of political essays and social commentary John Leo offers a lively alternative to the Washington-oriented slant of much political journalism. Rejecting the dry insider's air of knowing punditry, Leo's conversational style and acerbic wit engage the reader with his insightful and humorous views of what is going on in education, law, advertising, television, the news media, language, and the various liberation movements that are shaping-and sometimes convulsing-the country.

The unifying thread of Incorrect Thoughts is the emergence of Political Correctness and its diffusion throughout American social and cultural life. Most of the media have viewed the rise of PC as a collection of unimportant oddball anecdotes, but Leo perceives it as a coherent social movement sweeping through colleges and schools, the courts, the media, the feminist movement, and the art world. Its goals are traditional goals of the left-equality, inclusion, liberation, racial justice-but, as Leo notes, the tactics employed are often less than noble and the contempt for tradition, standards, and Western culture has grown each year.

The new orthodoxy has developed a taste for censorship and coercion. Speech codes and anti-harassment policies are used as weapons to silence and intimidate opponents. Speakers have been shouted down and whole editions of college newspapers stolen to keep students from reading the arguments of conservatives and moderates. Readers will find here judicious and often devastating appraisals of self-esteem and therapeutic trends in education, of efforts to revamp history along multicultural lines, and of the extremities and absurdities of identity politics among other of the latest fashions in radical chic.

Drawing from ideas first presented in his U.S. News and World Report columns Leo charts the political fever of a contentious and disordered period in American society. At the same time his pointed humor, long-term perspective, and strong moral edge ensures his continuing importance to the debates of our time. This book will interest those who share Leo's concerns as well as those who appreciate models for incisive political commentary.

John Leo is editor of the weekly syndicated column "On Society" in U.S. News and World Report. He has been a staff writer for Time magazine, the New York Times, and Commonweal. He lives in New York City with his wife and children.

"Incorrect Thoughts provides an opportunity to view in some breadth Mr. Leo's compelling vision of the way we live now."

-Daniel J. Silver, Wall Street Journal

A New York Times Notable Book for 2011
One of Entertainment Weekly's Top 10 Nonfiction Books of the Year 2011
A Time Magazine Top 10 Nonfiction book of 2011
A Boston Globe Best Nonfiction Book of 2011

One of Library Journal's Best Books of 2011


A sharp-eyed, uniquely humane tour of America's cultural landscape—from high to low to lower than low—by the award-winning young star of the literary nonfiction world.

In Pulphead, John Jeremiah Sullivan takes us on an exhilarating tour of our popular, unpopular, and at times completely forgotten culture. Simultaneously channeling the gonzo energy of Hunter S. Thompson and the wit and insight of Joan Didion, Sullivan shows us—with a laidback, erudite Southern charm that's all his own—how we really (no, really) live now.

In his native Kentucky, Sullivan introduces us to Constantine Rafinesque, a nineteenth-century polymath genius who concocted a dense, fantastical prehistory of the New World. Back in modern times, Sullivan takes us to the Ozarks for a Christian rock festival; to Florida to meet the alumni and straggling refugees of MTV's Real World, who've generated their own self-perpetuating economy of minor celebrity; and all across the South on the trail of the blues. He takes us to Indiana to investigate the formative years of Michael Jackson and Axl Rose and then to the Gulf Coast in the wake of Katrina—and back again as its residents confront the BP oil spill.

Gradually, a unifying narrative emerges, a story about this country that we've never heard told this way. It's like a fun-house hall-of-mirrors tour: Sullivan shows us who we are in ways we've never imagined to be true. Of course we don't know whether to laugh or cry when faced with this reflection—it's our inevitable sob-guffaws that attest to the power of Sullivan's work.

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