[UCP Books]: Outside the Gates of Eden: The Dream of America from Hiroshima to Now

“This is an utterly original, unprecedented work of cultural history and commentary, a tour de force, based on an exhaustive array of sources, explicating American experience from World War II to the present. There are simply no books on this period with this scope.”
Jeffrey L. Meikle, University of Texas at Austin


Outside the Gates of Eden

The Dream of America from Hiroshima to Now

Peter Bacon Hales


Publication date: May 1, 2014 978-0-226-12861-0
International publication date: June 2, 2014 $40.00/£28.00


The world that greeted the Baby Boomers in their early years was a frightening place. Fascism may have been beaten back, but it left in its wake the Cold War and the constant threat of nuclear annihilation. At the same time, however, America was rich with promise: as the undisputed leader of the Western world, and the most vibrant, innovative economy, it seemed to offer its young people a brilliant future.

Fear and hope, exhilaration and anxiety—twin currents that would prove inseparable as the twentieth century wore on. From them, the postwar generation would build a whole new world. How they did it is the subject of Outside the Gates of Eden, Peter Bacon Hales’s breathtakingly ambitious cultural history of the postwar years. Weaving brilliant storytelling—of Hendrix and Dylan onstage, of the early days of Levittown, of the unexpected resonance of Lucy—with close analysis of the spaces, places, and artifacts of everyday life, he explores the American quest for reinvention and the sense of forced mission that animate stories of American promise and peril.
A surprising, unparalleled reckoning with American self-identity as it transformed through these crucial decades, Outside the Gates of Eden is the most searching portrait yet of the Boomers, the world they found, and the world they made.

Peter Bacon Hales is professor emeritus of the history of art and architecture and director emeritus of the American Studies Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the author of several books, including, most recently, Atomic Cities: Living on the Manhattan Project. He lives and writes in New York’s Hudson Valley and is available for interviews.

Please contact Levi Stahl at (773) 702-0289 or lstahl@press.uchicago.edu for more information.




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