A feminist—and the bestselling author of The Age of American Unreason—looks back at the last pre-feminist generation of men who supposedly had it all and asks: what exactly did they have?
How fabulous was life for men in the 1950s and early 1960s? How real is the world depicted by a television show like Mad Men: a world where visibly successful males, so long as they supported their families and contributed to their firms’ profitability, could have midday liaisons, impregnate secretaries, and pimp for clients with impunity? In this engaging, witty, and insightful reappraisal, Susan Jacoby challenges both versions of the story–narratives that either romanticize or demonize men’s lives back in the good or bad (you choose) old days. She suggests that there were hidden economic and psychological costs that made this “Rat Pack” reality a fantasy, and she also shows why this illusion still holds sway in the worldview of many (including Republicans and social conservatives such as Mitt Romney) who continue to cherish, long for, and advocate for the days when a family lived on the man’s paycheck, and the woman stayed at home where she belonged.
Our most unsparing chronicler of unreason and an impassioned social provocateur who is always eager to skewer intellectual laziness and cultural myths, Jacoby comes to the unexpected rescue of the last generation of prefeminist men. An electronic dart of wit and insight.
SUSAN JACOBY is the author of eleven previous books, including Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism and Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion. Her articles have appeared frequently in the op-ed pages of The New York Times and in forums… More about Susan Jacoby