Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Playboy under the American mattress...

As Professor Crosby mentioned with post-war America, the rise of consumer culture marked a major turning point for American history, the result of which has had significant effects on the state of our society today. The themes covered in our last two classes reminded me of the book "Playboys in Paradise," by Bill Osgerby. To get some insight on into how youth culture got its start, or how "the American male" has developed and been redefined throughout history, read this book.
This is a fantastic read for AMST, HIST, FGSS or SOC majors, but I would readily recommend this to anyone remotely interested in consumerism or the conditioning of the male gender in America from a historical perspective. This book starts with a highlight of masculinity in the U.S. during the early 1800's and quickly moves to the turn of the century, covering the subsequent evolution of male style and consumer culture in the States until the late 1970's.
Osgerby does an amazing job of covering topics like the progression of masculine identity (the dude, the swinging bachelor etc.), the emergence of male magazines like Esquire and GQ, and the role of the American family over the past century. Osgerby provides a mosaic of historical figures and events that have shaped the way America engages leisure and entertainment. Zuit suit riots, Sex and the Single Girl, and Hugh Hefner's Playboy Empire all make an appearance. Osgerby also evaluates ideals of masculinity in the campaigns and politics of numerous American presidents (in case you wanted to know why Kennedy was so damn sexy. Or Nixon…if that’s what you’re into…)

So, slip this one into your next Half.com order if you so please. And if anyone wants to borrow a copy to browse through, just email me at Lhoeffel@wes. Or you can do the whole ‘google’ thing:
http://books.google.com/books?id=2o6ilc47VvAC&printsec=frontcover&dq=playboys+in+paradise&ei=BUcpR96dNYTg6wKKptDpDg&sig=Lll41WEoZYXcdf2NOV8oMSqjU6Q#PPP1,M1

Happy Halloween,
Lucas

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