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The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews


It’s one thing to be nostalgic about our own days gone by. It’s something else to believe in days gone by as seen on TV or at the movies, and that is what the author calls “the nostalgia trap.” If letting go of what we soaked up from the screens feels sad, take heart: The author argues that life is lots better lately, and she shares the facts to prove it.

— From THE WAY WE NEVER WERE: AMERICAN FAMILIES AND THE NOSTALGIA TRAIP (Stephanie Coontz)

Description


"Often brilliant and invariably provocative." --New York Times Book Review

Leave It to Beaver was not a documentary, a man's home has never been his castle, the 'male breadwinner marriage' is the least traditional family in history, and rape and sexual assault were far higher in the 1970s than they are today. In The Way We Never Were, acclaimed historian Stephanie Coontz provides a myth-shattering examination of two centuries of the American family, sweeping away misconceptions about the past that cloud current debates about domestic life. The 1950s do not present a workable model of how to conduct our personal lives today, Coontz argues, and neither does any other era from our cultural past. This revised edition includes a new introduction and epilogue, looking at what has and has not changed since the original publication in 1992, and exploring how the clash between growing gender equality and rising economic inequality is reshaping family life, marriage, and male-female relationships in our modern era.

Now more relevant than ever, The Way We Never Were continues to be a potent corrective to dangerous nostalgia for an American tradition that never really existed.



About the Author


Stephanie Coontz is a member of the faculty of Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, where she is a historian and an expert on American culture.

Praise For…


"[Coontz] approaches the subject of what we now insist up on calling 'family values' with what is, in the current atmosphere, a refreshing lack of partisan cant."—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World

"Stephanie Coontz has her finger on the pulse of contemporary families like no one else in America."—Paula England, 2015-15 President, American Sociological Association

"Coontz
presents fascinating facts and figures that explode the cherished myths about
self-sufficient, happy, moral families."—Newsday

"Historically
rich, and loaded with anecdotal evidence, The Way We Never Were
effectively demolishes the normal, traditional nuclear family as neither normal
nor traditional, and not even nuclear."—Nation

"A wonderfully perceptive,
myth-debunking report.... An important contribution to the current debate on
family values."—Publishers Weekly

"Clear, incisive, and
distinguished by Coontz's personal conviction and by its vast range of cogent
examples, including capsule histories of women in the labor force and of black
families. Fascinating, persuasive, politically relevant."—Kirkus Reviews

"Coontz's
strength is in the way she shows that families of every era have been blamed
for conditions beyond their control."—San Francisco Chronicle

"[Coontz] persuasively
dispels the myths and stereotypes of 'traditional' family values as the product
of the postwar era."—Library Journal
Product Details
ISBN: 9780465098835
ISBN-10: 0465098835
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication Date: March 29th, 2016
Pages: 576
Language: English