There have been a few movies, and one notorious TV show, that have painted the fifties as some extended summer vacation, a kind of bivouac in the march of history.

This notion probably had its seed in the rapid rise of mass media, especially television, and the increasing sophistication of marketing (both commercial and propagandistic). Some people thought it was in everyone's best interest to believe that good, clean consumerism was the only powerful force at work in the world. In the USA at least, those people were working hard to concoct the image of tranquility that now passes for fifties nostalgia.

In truth, the decade of the fifties was no exception to the rule of dizzying change that marked the rest of the twentieth century. I take you back now to 1956, in which, for instance...

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