The Way We Never Were by Stephanie Coontz
American Families and the Nostalgia Trap

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Synopsis

Leave It to Beaver was not a documentary, a man’s home has never been his castle, the ‘male breadwinner marriage’ is the least traditional family in history, and rape and sexual assault were far higher in the 1970s than they are today. In The Way We Never Were, acclaimed historian Stephanie Coontz provides a myth-shattering examination of two centuries of the American family, sweeping away misconceptions about the past that cloud current debates about domestic life. The 1950s do not present a workable model of how to conduct our personal lives today, Coontz argues, and neither does any other era from our cultural past. This revised edition includes a new introduction and epilogue, looking at what has and has not changed since the original publication in 1992, and exploring how the clash between growing gender equality and growing economic inequality is reshaping family life, marriage, and male-female relationships in our modern era. Now more relevant than ever, The Way We Never Were continues to be a potent corrective to dangerous nostalgia for an American tradition that never really existed.
 

About Stephanie Coontz

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Stephanie Coontz is a member of the faculty of Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, where she is a historian and an expert on American culture.
 
Published March 29, 2016 by Basic Books. 576 pages
Genres: History. Non-fiction