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Download Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression Audiobook, by Morris Dickstein Click for printable size audiobook cover
2.71 out of 52.71 out of 52.71 out of 52.71 out of 52.71 out of 5 2.71 (28 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Morris Dickstein Narrator: Malcolm Hillgartner Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2010 ISBN: 9781455199136
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Hailed as one of the best books of 2009 by the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, this vibrant portrait of 1930s culture masterfully explores the anxiety and hope, the despair and surprising optimism of distressed Americans during the Great Depression.

Morris Dickstein, whom Norman Mailer called “one of our best and most distinguished critics of American literature,” has brought together a staggering range of material, from epic Dust Bowl migrations to zany screwball comedies, elegant dance musicals, wildly popular swing bands, and streamlined art deco designs. Exploding the myth that Depression culture was merely escapist, Dickstein concentrates on the dynamic energy of the arts and the resulting lift they gave to the nations morale. A fresh and exhilarating analysis of one of America’s most remarkable artistic periods, Dancing in the Dark is a monumental critique.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Dancing in the Dark is a fine, high-minded survey of the decade’s cultural history.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A smart, ambitious piece of work, the product of prodigious research and careful thought, and those who read it will come away with a clearer understanding of an important but widely misunderstood period in the country’s cultural life.”

    Washington Post

  • “The definitive book about Depression culture for our time.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “An exhaustive and invigorating overview of the films, songs, books, plays, buildings, and design that emerged from America’s darkest economic decade.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “The gloom of the Depression fed a brilliant cultural efflorescence that’s trenchantly explored here…Dickstein’s fluent, erudite, intriguing meditations turn up many resonances…The result is a fascinating portrait of a distant era that still speaks compellingly to our own.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “A thrill to read. As a work of cultural history, it’s the equivalent of a Fred and Ginger dance number.”

    NPR

  • A Los Angeles Times Favorite Book
  • A 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2009 Huffington Post Best Book for Nonfiction
  • Winner of the 2010 Ambassador Book Award for American Studies
  • A 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
  • A 2009 New York Times Book Review Notable Book

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ed | 2/17/2014

    " A very insightful book on a complex time in our history. It is not and easy read, but well worth it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Steve P | 2/6/2014

    " Was expecting more of a popular history but this one reads more like a doctoral dissertation. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Yolanda | 2/4/2014

    " This book needed a good strong editor, or a less pedantic author. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joel | 2/3/2014

    " This book is too small for its breeches, which is to say it is highly repetitious, has an interesting but relatively modest historical perspective, and needed an editor with a weed wacker to cut about 100 pages. The book also creates its own version of the Renaissance problem (when did that Renaissance begin?)by inconsistent framing of its own historical period. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Carolyn | 1/28/2014

    " I hate misnamed books. This is not a *cultural* history of the Great Depression. That would include music, fashion, slang, hobbies, and other aspects of daily life. This is a *literary* history of the Great Depression, featuring novels unknown to any except English majors. Towards the end they throw in a chapter on movies and a chapter on Woody Guthrie, but that doesn't quite cut it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jenness | 1/26/2014

    " This wasn't at all what I was expecting. I was hoping for a cultural histroy of the great depression that was more inclusinve of the arts/culture of the times. Very disappointing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 mcgob | 1/2/2014

    " I wish this hadn't been so terribly dry... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Charlotte | 8/27/2013

    " Some interesting stuff, but you need to know the background. People and films and books are discussed in ways that are problematic if you are not familiar with them. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 John Doll | 8/24/2013

    " Interesting that this was hailed as one of the best books of 2009. A good survey of the decade, but with those types of accolades, I expected more insight and analysis. Interesting read though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marie | 8/18/2013

    " How interesting this was, though requiring some time and patience to get through. I thought I had a pretty decent handle on depression-era fiction and movies until I starting reading about dozens of titles I'd never even heard of. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Roses8 Rose | 3/18/2013

    " i did not like this book at all. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nicole Marble | 3/3/2013

    " The Great Depression as viewed through the arts. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Charlie | 10/21/2012

    " An excellent cultural criticism of literature, art, music, films that are informed by the Great Depression. If you're a history buff, you'll totally enjoy this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 David Oser | 10/20/2012

    " OK, but ultimately just a collection of Dickstein's university lectures. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sarah | 10/7/2011

    " I thought this book had a lot of potential but it was more like an author/book report of a variety of authors during the 20s & 30s. It was hard to make the connection to the actual topic and, frankly, an uninteresting read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth | 5/20/2011

    " I did a speed read throuh certain chapters I was most interested in, since I couldn't read this dense text with-in 3 weeks. I'll check it out again in the future for a more thorough reading. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Margaret Sankey | 4/6/2011

    " A lucid survey of the cultural output of the 1930s and its reflection of the financial malaise and American loss of confidence--from the social realism of Tobacco Road and Grapes of Wrath, to the manic edge of screwball comedy. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Carolyn Phelps | 2/11/2011

    " Probably a great book for a movie or book fan of the 1930's. Requires a great deal of background knowledge to appreciate it. It would be an excellent reference book, but wasn't an enjoyable read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Charlie | 12/3/2010

    " An excellent cultural criticism of literature, art, music, films that are informed by the Great Depression. If you're a history buff, you'll totally enjoy this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ed | 10/13/2010

    " A very insightful book on a complex time in our history. It is not and easy read, but well worth it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John | 9/30/2010

    " Interesting that this was hailed as one of the best books of 2009. A good survey of the decade, but with those types of accolades, I expected more insight and analysis. Interesting read though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marie | 9/7/2010

    " How interesting this was, though requiring some time and patience to get through. I thought I had a pretty decent handle on depression-era fiction and movies until I starting reading about dozens of titles I'd never even heard of. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karina | 8/31/2010

    " good information, but given in a very dry format.
    barely got through half before I was skimming through the book.
    not the best/not the worst "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jenness | 4/26/2010

    " This wasn't at all what I was expecting. I was hoping for a cultural histroy of the great depression that was more inclusinve of the arts/culture of the times. Very disappointing. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Carolyn | 4/10/2010

    " Probably a great book for a movie or book fan of the 1930's. Requires a great deal of background knowledge to appreciate it. It would be an excellent reference book, but wasn't an enjoyable read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Steve | 2/14/2010

    " Was expecting more of a popular history but this one reads more like a doctoral dissertation. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 mcgob | 1/9/2010

    " I wish this hadn't been so terribly dry... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth | 11/26/2009

    " I did a speed read throuh certain chapters I was most interested in, since I couldn't read this dense text with-in 3 weeks. I'll check it out again in the future for a more thorough reading. "

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About the Author
Author Morris Dickstein

Morris Dickstein is a literary and cultural critic and distinguished professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center and the author of Gates of Eden and Leopards in the Temple, among other works. He lives in New York City.

About the Narrator

Malcolm Hillgartner is an actor, author, playwright, and professional narrator. Under the name Jahnna N. Malcolm, he and his wife, Jahnna Beecham, have written over one hundred books for young readers; their musicals have played in theaters across America. His audiobook credits include works by Dean Koontz, Nelson Algren, and William F. Buckley Jr.