The book named above explores events that shaped American history in the early 20th century. The author, David Kyvig, acknowledges that during the 1920s and ’30s, America experienced revolutionary changes that significantly influenced Americans’ lives. The modifications mentioned in this book include cultural upheavals, technological innovation, growth of urbanization, and the great economic depression. Kyvig uses this book to narrate how Americans led their daily lives in the early years of the 20th century, a time when home electricity, movies, radio, and automobiles became popular.
David Kyvig is currently a professor at the University of Northern Illinois. He has authored several books concerning American history, including Explicit and Authentic Acts, which won the Bancroft Prize. In addition, Kyvig is a resident of Illinois living in DeKalb. The author presents a double-sided description of controversial issues such as how industrialization led to increased immigration into America and economic and racial discrimination during those years. The book demonstrates how the white working-class lived differently from others, which caused increased social tensions between the haves and the to-have-nots.
Kyvig’s book title, “Daily Life in the USA, 1920-1940: How Americans Lived Through the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression,” is appropriate because it gives readers a clear image of America between 1920 and 1940. By just reading the title, readers become aware that the book contains historical events that shaped America in the early years of the 20th century. Therefore, the title is satisfactory and requires no alterations. Although Kyvig’s book was written and published in 2004, its content describes historical events in America between the 1920s and ’40s. In his book, the author does not reflect on any views in America that could have compelled him to write the book in 2004. Kyvig’s book focuses on America’s historical life without any comparison or contrast to the same in the 21st century
The aspect that I found the most interesting in this book is the author’s ability to reflect the impact of each historical event on Americans’ daily lives. Kyvig reflective description helps the readers compare America’s life before some historical changes became popular and after their popularity. For instance, the author affirms that gasoline-fueled engine vehicles existed several years back but only gained popularity in the 1920s (David 27). Notably, Kyvig applies the above description style in most chapters of his book to explain the significance of each historical change in shaping Americans’ lives in a captivating way. What I found least interesting about this book is that it does not tell the reader the historical events described have any relevance in the modern life of Americans.
The fact concerning automobiles I find most interesting in Kyvig’s book is his description of how America’s production and ownership of all types of vehicles rose in less than 20 years. Kevin demonstrates that “In 1920, barely one household in three possessed a car”… “Automobile ownership tripled during the 1920s, and by decade’s end four families in five owned one (David 27).” The above quote shows how fast car production impacted car ownership in America. Kyvig explains that car ownership grew due to assumptions held by workers in automobile production plants which viewed a car as an indicator of a family’s economic well-being.
Several facts about the production and supply of electricity are cited in Kyvig’s book that I find interesting. One of the essential aspects presented by the author concerning power generation and distribution in America between the 1920s and ’40s is that the development offered direct employment to a substantial population (David 53). Electricity promoted significant economic growth because apart from providing homes with lighting, electric power supplied in industries helped mass production of various consumer goods. In addition, Kyvig adds that electricity changed the entertainment life of Americans.
The uniting role that the introduction of the radio played in America during the 1920s is the most significant aspect. Kyvig said, “It soon linked rural and urban Americans together in a common listening experience” (71). The invention of the radio gave Americans equal and real-time access to news concerning politics, sports, and other events. In addition, Kyvig’s book confirms that introduction of cinema in the 1920’s significantly transformed the daily life of Americans. For instance, Kyvig demonstrates that “Movies as much or more than radio served to break provincialism, increase awareness of the unfamiliar, and create a national community with a specific set of shared experiences” (91). Therefore, cinema helps in enhancing the unity and equalization of American society.
Concerning the government’s expanded roles in the 1930s, the essential aspects included establishing bank legislation by President Roosevelt, which restored people’s banking confidence. This legislation encouraged more people to save their money in banks (David 232). In addition, the new deal increased the government’s presence in the people. The least essential aspect to consider is the frequency of Roosevelt’s use to disseminate information nationwide. President Roosevelt frequently used the radio to communicate with Americans since he came to power during its popularity compared to his predecessors.
Admittedly, Kyvig has managed to make the material of his book interesting and understandable in several ways. He does this by presenting the central ideas in chronological order of time. In addition, he uses pictures and statistical data to enhance the clarity of his message. If I were to edit Kyvig’s book, I would reveal how the ideas discussed in the book shape contemporary America. Kyvig’s book about daily life in the USA is historically informative and exciting and thus suitable to recommend to a friend. This book has increased my interest in understanding the history of American cities. Studying social history is important because it provides students with more profound knowledge concerning several aspects affecting society over time. The historical events contained in this book will remain relevant for use with future students. I prefer to read a book on the American economy’s history to understand better how the American economy has evolved.
David, E. Kyvig. Daily Life In The United States, 1920 1940: How Americans Lived Through The” Roaring Twenties” And The Great Depression. Vol. 99. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2004.