Branch, Taylor, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954–1963. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989. An unsurpassed portrait of King’s rise to greatness that illuminates the stunning courage and private conflict, the deals, maneuvers, and rivalries that determined history behind closed doors.
Dochuk, Darren. From Bible Belt to Sun Belt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism. New York: W.W. Norton, 2011. The rise of one of the most influential postwar movements.
Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique. New York: W.W. Norton, 1963. The book that helped spark a movement.
Harvey, Mark T. A Symbol of Wilderness: Echo Park and the American Conservation Movement. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1994. The surprising 1950s origins of the wilderness movement.
Igo, Sarah E. The Averaged American: Surveys, Citizens, and the Making of a Mass Public. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008. Igo explains how modern surveys beginning in the 1920s projected new authoritative accounts of majorities and minorities, the mainstream and the marginal.
Jacobs, Meg. Pocketbook Politics: Economic Citizenship in Twentieth Century America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007. Jacobs demonstrates how pocketbook politics provided the engine for American political conflict throughout the 20th century.
McDougall, Walter. The Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age. New York: Basic Books, 1985. Award-winning account of the space race in Cold War context.
May, Elaine Tyler, Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era. New York: Basic Books, 2008 (1988). May argues that the foreign policy of the “containment” of Communism paralleled the rise of a domestic politics of containment of the economic, sexual, and social desires of both women and men.
Nicolaides, Becky, My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics in the Working-Class Suburbs of Los Angeles, 1920–1965. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002. This work tells the story of how blue-collar workers built the suburb of South Gate literally from the ground up, using sweat equity rather than cash.
Rome, Adam. The Bulldozer in the Countryside: Suburban Sprawl and the Rise of American Environmentalism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001. The rise of suburbia creates environmental problems and inspires environmental protection.
Sugrue, Thomas, The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005. Sugrue explains how Detroit and many other once-prosperous industrial cities have become the sites of persistent racialized poverty.
Tyson, Timothy B. Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001. The borderless nature of radio extends American civil rights into other nations.
Published by Oxford University Press
Bowie, Robert R. and Richard H. Immerman. Waging Peace: How Eisenhower Shaped an Enduring Cold War Strategy. This study provides the first fully comprehensive study of Eisenhower's “New Look” program of national security, which provided the groundwork for the next three decades of America’s Cold War strategy.
Casey, Steven. Selling the Korean War: Propaganda, Politics, and Public Opinion in the United States, 1950–1953. Casey explores how President Truman and then Eisenhower tried to sell it to the American public.
Jackson, Kenneth. Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of America. Jackson traces the consequences of the predominantly North American process of suburbanization through three centuries of technological, economic and social innovation.
Mickenberg, Julia L. Learning from the Left: Children’s Literature, the Cold War, and Radical Politics in the United State. This work provides the first historic overview of the work of dozens of radical and progressive writers, illustrators, editors, librarians, booksellers, and teachers who cooperated to create and disseminate children’s books that challenged the status quo.
Tushnet, Mark V. Making Civil Rights Law: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court, 1936–1961. Tushnet provides a chronological narrative history of the legal struggle, led by Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, that preceded the political battles for civil rights.
Levittown: Documents of an Ideal American Suburb. Hosted by the art history department of the University of Illinois, this site contains sources, images, and texts on the favorite postwar suburb, Levittown.
American Advertising: A Brief History. A useful introduction to the history of advertisements, including the ad boom in the postwar years, with various useful links and resources.
The Civil Rights Movement. This site of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum contains resources and texts relating to the civil rights movement during Kennedy’s tenure.
“With an Even Hand:” Brown v. Board at 50. A Library of Congress online exhibit with documents, images, and texts.