Generous in scope and attitude, Morris Dickstein's survey of the cultural eruption produced by the Great Depression reveals how the same themes recurred across the arts.
Of course, the spirit of the age imbued "didactic" John Steinbeck, "surreal" Erskine Caldwell and "Chekhovian" Clifford Odets. Dickstein demonstrates how it also seeped into the hedonistic songs of Cole Porter with their "undertone of sadness and world-weariness".
Gershwin and Fred Astaire projected "a sense that life was transient, even catastrophic, but that a core of grace and connection survived." In keeping with his view that this "charge of social energy... should resonate with us again today," this fine book is surprisingly uplifting.