The Rise and Fall of the Future

America's Changing Vision of Tomorrow, 1939–1986

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About the Book

Mid–20th century America envisioned a wondrous future of comfort, convenience and technological advancement. Popular culture—including World’s Fairs, science fiction and advertising—fed high hopes even when war and hardship threatened. American ingenuity and consumer culture promised to deliver flying cars, undersea cities, household robots and space travel. By the 1960s political assassinations, the civil rights and women’s movements, the Vietnam War and the “generation gap” eroded that optimism, refocusing attention on the issues of the present. The nation’s utopian dream was brief but revealing. Based on a wide range of sources, this book takes a fresh look at America’s precipitous fall from futurism to disillusionment.

About the Author(s)

Gordon Arnold has taught at several colleges, including Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts, for many years. He lives in the Boston area.

Bibliographic Details

Gordon Arnold
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 210
Bibliographic Info: 28 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7744-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4101-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Preface 1
Introduction 6
1. The World of Tomorrow 15
2. From War to Renewal 36
3. A Consumer’s Future 58
4. A New Frontier 81
5. Peak Future 105
6. The Specter of Doubt 126
7. Fading Tomorrows 147
Epilogue 168
Chapter Notes 185
Selected Bibliography 195
Index 199