In the groundbreaking work, Thomas Hine examines the American teenager as a social invention shaped by the needs of the twentieth century. With intelligence, insight, imagination, and humor he traces the culture of youth in Americafrom the spiritual trials of young Puritans and the vision quests of Native Americans to the media-blitzed consumerism of contempory thirteen-to-nineteen -year-olds. The resulting study is a glorious appreciation of youth that challenges us to confront our sterotypesm, rethink our expectations, and consider anew the lives of those individuals who are blessing, our bane, and our future.
In the first decade of the 21st century, the U.S. will have its largest-ever generation of teenagers. Even if that were not so, this book would be vitally important. Hine (Populuxe) covers 400 years of American history in his fluent, broad-brushed account of the paradoxical position of those enduring their adolescence in American society. Generally viewed as the best of times and as times of madness and despair, the teen years have constantly shifted shape in adult consciousness. Pointing out that the term "teenager" itself is young (it dates from the 1940s, when it described a new consumer market), Hine convincingly rebuts the belief that teendom is a natural stage of human development. He is irritated with his own baby boomer generation for failing to produce a real revolution, comparing its efforts unfavorably with the campus unrest of the 1760s at Yale, Harvard and elsewhere, when students "imbibed the Spirit of the times," and many contributed to the American Revolution. In Hine's view, boomers have gone from blaming their parents for the ills of society to blaming their own children, about whom they hold "deeply contradictory" beliefs. Hine focuses on high school (without which, he contends, "there are no teenagers") as the "weak link" in the educational system, "because Americans have never been able to agree on what it should accomplish" yet cannot imagine young people in roles outside the schools and colleges where they are, he charges, warehoused. Anyone who professes concern about America's future should read and ponder this provocative, well-argued book. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.