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American Fun: Four Centuries of Joyous…
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American Fun: Four Centuries of Joyous Revolt

by John Beckman

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Stretches the definition of fun to include political protests. Has some strong sections, particularly on the early conceptions of fun in the colonial period. Also some interesting commentary on the 1920s. Overall not much fun to read, very clinical analysis of the topic in an almost textbook style that is in need of editing. ( )
  VGAHarris | Jan 19, 2015 |
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On the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the year of 1620, forty-one men shuffled on the decks of a creaky cargo ship.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307908178, Hardcover)

An animated and wonderfully engaging work of cultural history that lays out America's unruly past: the ways in which cutting loose has always been, and still is, an essential part of what it means to be an American.

Throughout American history there have been undeniable strains of purpose and sacrifice fuelled by sober, Protestant determination and religious principle. But beneath this surging tide of American destiny and exceptionalism always ran an undercurrent of just cutting loose. From the time the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, Americans defied their stodgy rules and hierarchies with pranks, dances, stunts, and wild parties, shaping the national character in profound and lasting ways. In earlier eras, revelers flouted Puritans; Patriots pranked Redcoats; slaves lampooned masters; and 49ers bucked the saddles of an increasingly uptight middle class. In the twentieth century, fun-loving Americans celebrated this heritage and pushed it even further: flappers "barneymugged" in "petting pantries"; Yippies showered the Stock Exchange with one-dollar bills; B-boys invented hip-hop in a war zone of the Bronx. And in our Internet Age, American Fun has seized the globe. This is the surprising and revelatory history that John Beckman recounts here. Tying together captivating stories of Americans' "pursuit of happiness"—and distinguishing between real, risky fun and the bland amusements that paved the way for Hollywood, Disneyland, and Xbox—Beckman's history redefines American culture with a delightful and provocative thesis.

(With black-and-white illustrations throughout.)

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:20 -0400)

Analyzes the American traditions of cutting loose and engaging in mischief to take breaks from work and sobriety, describing the activities of earlier centuries while sharing stories about the entertainments of the modern world.

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