The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War Audiobook, by Louis Menand Play Audiobook Sample

The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War Audiobook

The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War Audiobook, by Louis Menand Play Audiobook Sample
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Read By: David Colacci Publisher: Macmillan Audio Listen Time: at 1.0x Speed 23.33 hours at 1.5x Speed 17.50 hours at 2.0x Speed Release Date: April 2021 Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download ISBN: 9781250792365

Quick Stats About this Audiobook

Total Audiobook Chapters:


Longest Chapter Length:

77:24 minutes

Shortest Chapter Length:

35 seconds

Average Chapter Length:

46:33 minutes

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Publisher Description

"Narrator David Colacci approaches this opinionated, engrossing audiobook with a practiced voice that lets its numerous stories tell themselves without fanfare...this audiobook is a monumental work." -- AudioFile Magazine In his follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Metaphysical Club, Louis Menand offers a new intellectual and cultural history of the postwar years. The Cold War was not just a contest of power. It was also about ideas, in the broadest sense—economic and political, artistic and personal. In The Free World, the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize–winning scholar and critic Louis Menand tells the story of American culture in the pivotal years from the end of World War II to Vietnam and shows how changing economic, technological, and social forces put their mark on creations of the mind. How did elitism and an anti-totalitarian skepticism of passion and ideology give way to a new sensibility defined by freewheeling experimentation and loving the Beatles? How was the ideal of “freedom” applied to causes that ranged from anti-communism and civil rights to radical acts of self-creation via art and even crime? With the wit and insight familiar to readers of The Metaphysical Club and his New Yorker essays, Menand takes us inside Hannah Arendt’s Manhattan, the Paris of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Merce Cunningham and John Cage’s residencies at North Carolina’s Black Mountain College, and the Memphis studio where Sam Phillips and Elvis Presley created a new music for the American teenager. He examines the post war vogue for French existentialism, structuralism and post-structuralism, the rise of abstract expressionism and pop art, Allen Ginsberg’s friendship with Lionel Trilling, James Baldwin’s transformation into a Civil Right spokesman, Susan Sontag’s challenges to the New York Intellectuals, the defeat of obscenity laws, and the rise of the New Hollywood. Stressing the rich flow of ideas across the Atlantic, he also shows how Europeans played a vital role in promoting and influencing American art and entertainment. By the end of the Vietnam era, the American government had lost the moral prestige it enjoyed at the end of the Second World War, but America’s once-despised culture had become respected and adored. With unprecedented verve and range, this book explains how that happened. A Macmillan Audio production from Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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“Reminds us that, even in the midst of conflict, we create. As the United States played push-me-pull-you with the Soviet Union, artists and thinkers exchanged ideas across continents, from Elvis and the Beatles to Hannah Arendt and Betty Friedan.”

— Washington Post 


  • “A sumptuous canvas of postwar culture and global politics, impeccable scholarship paired with page-turning prose. Hannah Arendt, James Baldwin, Jackson Pollock, Susan Sontag: all spring to life here.”

    — O, The Oprah Magazine
  • “An exhilarating exploration of one of history’s most culturally fertile eras.”

    — Publishers Weekly (starred review)


  • A Washington Postn Pick of 50 Top Books of the Year
  • An Amazon Editor’s Top Pick
  • A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
  • A Mother Jones Best Book of 2021
  • Among longlisted titles for National Book Awards - Longlist, 2021
  • Among longlisted titles for Time Magazine Best Books of the Year, 2021
  • Among longlisted titles for Washington Post Best Books of the Year, 2021
  • Among longlisted titles for New York Times Book Review Notable Books of the Year, 2021
  • Among longlisted titles for Minneapolis Star Tribune Holiday Book Recommendations, 2021

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About Louis Menand

Louis Menand is professor of English at Harvard University and a staff writer at the New Yorker. His books include The Metaphysical Club, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history and the Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians. In 2016, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama.

About David Colacci

David Colacci is an actor and director who has directed and performed in prominent theaters nationwide. His credits include roles from Shakespeare to Albee, as well as extensive work on new plays. As a narrator, he has won numerous Earphones Awards, earned Audie Award nominations, and been included in Best Audio of the Year lists by such publications as Publishers Weekly, AudioFile magazine, and Library Journal. He was a resident actor and director with the Cleveland Play House for eight years and has been artistic director of the Hope Summer Rep Theater since 1992.