Levittown by David Kushner
Two Families, One Tycoon, and the Fight for Civil Rights in America's Legendary Suburb

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Synopsis

In the decade after World War II, one entrepreneurial family helped thousands of people buy into the American dream of owning a home, not just any home, but a good one, with all the modern conveniences. The Levitts--two brothers, William and Alfred, and their father, Abe--pooled their talents in land use, architecture, and sales to create story book town with affordable little houses. They laid out the welcome mat, but not to everyone. Levittown had a whites-only policy.

This is the story that unfolded in Levittown, PA, one unseasonably hot summer in 1957 on a quiet street called Deepgreen Lane. There, a white Jewish Communist family named Wechsler secretly arranged for a black family, the Myers, to buy the little pink house next door. What followed was an explosive summer of violence that would transform their lives, and the nation. It would lead to the downfall of a titan, and the integration of the most famous suburb in the world. It's a story of hope and fear, invention and rebellion, and the power that comes when ordinary people take an extraordinary stand.
 

About David Kushner

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David Kushner is the author of Masters of Doom and Jonny Magic and the Card Shark Kids. A contributing editor at Rolling Stone and Wired, his work has appeared in the New York Times, New York, Entertainment Weekly, Parade, Salon, Spin, and the Village Voice. He is also a regular commentator for NPR. Kushner currently lives not far from Levittown in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters.
 
Published July 1, 2009 by Walker Books. 256 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Levittown

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Civil-rights groups made integrating the new Levittown a top priority, and Jewish activists Bea and Lew Wechsler invited the African-American Myers family to move in next door at 43 Deepgreen Lane in August 1957.

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Book Reporter

To some, the name “Levittown” conjures up images of crushing conformity spread out in row upon row of soulless Cape Cod “boxes.” To others, it represents the ingenious entrepreneurial spirit of Levitt & Sons, the dynamic homebuilder embodied in the person of William Levitt, who enabled the wave o...

Dec 30 2010 | Read Full Review of Levittown: Two Families, One ...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

(Levitt, who claimed that 90 to 95 percent of whites would refuse to buy into an integrated Levittown, had once said, "We can solve the housing problem or we can solve the racial problem, but we cannot combine the two.") Kushner's fast-paced account deftly re-creates the drama, which, though larg...

Apr 20 2009 | Read Full Review of Levittown: Two Families, One ...

Tampa Bay Times

In crosscutting the Levitt story with the saga of the Wechsler and Myers families — the first Jewish, the second black — Kushner illuminates a little-known aspect of civil rights history.

Apr 25 2009 | Read Full Review of Levittown: Two Families, One ...

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