Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1875-1945, By Jon Savage

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Jon Savage's 500-plus page history of the teen age stands to be the definitive study of pre-war youth trends. It closes in 1945, with the ending of the Second World War and the near-simultaneous coining, by US marketers, of the word "teenager" to describe those adolescent consumers who would shape the shiny new mass culture.

It begins, rather more arbitrarily, in 1875, with extracts from the journals of Marie Bashkirtseff, in which the society girl wrote endlessly, if wittily, about her self-obsession and desire for attention.

In between, Teenage alights on 19th-century Romanticism, Peter Pan, jazz, swing and the birth of Hollywood. It also looks at the corollary of the right to be young and free: the Hitler Youth, the Boy Scout movement, the hysterical reaction against "juvenile delinquency".

This is a rich and fascinating, scholarly book; it is also appropriately giddy, somewhat liable to changes in mood and possibly just a touch self-satisfied.

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