A comprehensive account of American society in 1939, a year that saw both the suffering that characterized the end of the Great Depression as well as the welcome escapism of the era's music, art, and film.
Poised on the verge of World War II, America in 1939 was a land of contrasts. The nation was finally pulling out of the Great Depression, but war-clouds gathered on the horizon. Scientific developments offered promising new advances, yet they would soon become the tools of war. This study offers a detailed look at life in this watershed year to determine how Americans understood the conditions of their day and how they turned to escapism when their burdens became too heavy. From the royal visit to the World's Fairs, most Americans looked ahead to a brighter future. Professional athletics, Hollywood films, and the Big Bands were a welcome diversion to hard times and troubling events abroad in Europe and Asia. This account highlights the most important political, economic, and social concerns of 1939.
The first part, Documenting America, focuses on the major social and economic concerns of the American people in 1939. Chapter one examines religion, race, and crime, while chapters two and three consider economic difficulties and proposed solutions. Part Two, Some Golden Ages, includes chapters on the Studio era in Hollywood, Big Bands and Broadway musicals, art and architecture of the period, scientific breakthroughs, and sports notables. The final part, It Happened Over There, completes the picture with two chapters on the ominous international situation and early American efforts to deal with the impending war.