Book Review: Dancing in the Dark by Morris Dickstein
Author: Morris Dickstein
Title: Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression
Publication Info: Blackstone Audio, Inc. (2010)
I’ll start off by saying that this wasn’t this book I was expecting as I was looking for more of the experience of everyday life in the Great Depression. Upon reflection that would probably be labeled a social history, which is probably obvious to most people, but I thought it worth mentioning in case any potential reader is making the same mistake I did. The other thing I should note is that I listened to the audiobook and had a lot of trouble with the CDs so I probably did not hear the entire book, although I did hear the majority. With that said, the book is actually an exploration of culture created during the Great Depression – films, music, novels, poetry, fine arts and decorative arts – and how they were influenced by the social trends of the time and in turn their effect (or lack thereof) on society. The essays Dickstein writes are thorough and opinionated and often out of my league since they refer to things of which I have no prior knowledge. That being said I did enjoy his critique on artists and performers such as John Steinbeck, Zora Neale Hurston, Busby Berkley, Fred Astaire, Louis Armstrong, and Bing Crosby. Overall this book was not for me but I expect it would be a valuable resource for anyone looking for the light some cultural artifacts of the 1930s shine on the Great Depression.