"The American Dream is a fundamental reference in American studies and should therefore be part of every public library in the U.S. Lawrence Samuel write vividly, with clarity, and passion."—Yves Laberge, Universite de Rennes 2, Journal of American Culture
There is no better way to understand America than by understanding the cultural history of the American Dream. Rather than just a powerful philosophy or ideology, the Dream is thoroughly woven into the fabric of everyday life, playing a vital role in who we are, what we do, and why we do it. No other idea or mythology has as much influence on our individual and collective lives. Tracing the history of the phrase in popular culture, Samuel gives readers a field guide to the evolution of our national identity over the last eighty years.
Samuel tells the story chronologically, revealing that there have been six major eras of the mythology since the phrase was coined in 1931. Relying mainly on period magazines and newspapers as his primary source material, the author demonstrates that journalists serving on the front lines of the scene represent our most valuable resource to recover unfiltered stories of the Dream. The problem, Samuel reveals, is that it does not exist; the Dream is just that, a product of our imagination. That it is not real ultimately turns out to be the most significant finding and what makes the story most compelling.
Lawrence R. Samuel is the founder of Culture Planning LLC, a Miami-and New York-based resource offering cultural insight to Fortune 500 organizations. He is the author of The End of the Innocence: The 1964–1965 New York World’s Fair, Future: A Recent History, Rich: The Rise and Fall of American Wealth Culture, Freud on Madison Avenue: Motivation Research and Subliminal Advertising in America, Supernatural America: A Cultural History, and a number of other books.
6 x 9, 252 pages