Sunday, April 14, 2013

Culture Clash: New history of Chicago taps into our malaise (Chicago Tribune)

"The Third Coast: When Chicago Built the American Dream," which comes out this week from Penguin Press, has a gentle title and a sanguine black-and-white cover image of the rotating beacon on the roof of the old Palmolive Building throwing light over Lake Michigan. It also has an elegant, unflinching, non-nostalgic clarity about Chicago that you rarely see in books about Chicago. It gave me a dizzying rush, the impression that I had come across a new touchstone in Chicago literature, an ambitious history lesson no one had written: The story of how, from 1945 to 1960, Chicago created the culture that shaped American culture, delivering, in that brief window, Studs Terkel, McDonald's, Hugh Hefner, the atom bomb, modernist architecture, Chess Records, The Second City, the Chicago School of Television and "Kukla, Fran and Ollie."

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