Wednesday, January 18, 2017


by Robert S. Lynd and Helen Merrell Lynd

The subtitle of this book is "A Study in Modern American Culture". That's probably what folks were looking to read about when they picked up the newly published book in 1929. In 2016, however, my wife and I were hoping to read some history. Middletown is the report of a year and a half study the Lynds and their assistants conducted in a small Midwestern city. They approached the study like cultural anthropologists, making observations on the daily life of the city's residents. (Well, the city's white residents, anyway.) The book is a bit of a dry read. While there are anecdotes woven throughout the text there are also lists and statistics. It was interesting to listen to the life and concerns of my grandparents generation. Sometimes I would chuckle at accounts, sometimes my teeth would be set on edge, like when the authors would casually mention labor conditions or the KKK as part of the community. In the end, I enjoyed having a peek at the past but was glad that its culture wasn't my "Modern America".

It makes for useful waiting room material.
LibraryThing link


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