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“Dancing in the Dark”

Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great DepressionAs the Bruce Springsteen song of the same name says, “You can’t start a fire without a spark.” Although the Boss came around many years after the Great Depression, this idea is still applicable. Morris Dickstein’s “Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression” explores the outburst of creativity in the dismal Depression era. The crash of the Stock Market created a firestorm of doubt across the country, burning a hole in the hearts of many Americans who clung to the “American Dream.” But according to The New York Times, Dickstein disregards the common man and focuses on the activities of high-society city dwellers, including movies, musicals, books and art. These served as not just an escape from tension, but as a broader cultural renaissance. Many of Dickstein’s ideas can be related to the current down-swinging economy. Andrew Dickson of The Guardian writes, “Even if the generous scope of this book proves its undoing, the central paradox it explores – how economic bankruptcy produced such a wealth of creativity – might give us pause for thought, 80 years after the Wall Street crash.”

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