Learning from the Left

Learning from the Left : Children's Literature, the Cold War, and Radical Politics in the United States

3.91 (34 ratings by Goodreads)
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At the height of the Cold War, dozens of radical and progressive writers, illustrators, editors, librarians, booksellers, and teachers cooperated to create and disseminate children's books that challenged the status quo. Learning from the Left provides the first historic overview of their work. Spanning from the 1920s, when both children's book publishing and American Communism were becoming significant on the American scene, to the late 1960s, when youth who had been raised on many of the books in this study unequivocally rejected the values of the Cold War, Learning from the Left shows how "radical" values and ideas that have now become mainstream (including cooperation, interracial friendship, critical thinking, the dignity of labor, feminism, and the history of marginalized people), were communicated to children in repressive times. A range of popular and critically acclaimed children's books, many by former teachers and others who had been blacklisted because of their political beliefs, made commonplace the ideas that McCarthyism tended to call "subversive."
These books, about history, science, and contemporary social conditions-as well as imaginative works, science fiction, and popular girls' mystery series-were readily available to children: most could be found in public and school libraries, and some could even be purchased in classrooms through book clubs that catered to educational audiences. Drawing upon extensive interviews, archival research, and hundreds of children's books published from the 1920s through the 1970s, Learning from the Left offers a history of the children's book in light of the history of the history of the Left, and a new perspective on the links between the Old Left of the 1930s and the New Left of the 1960s. Winner of the Grace Abbott Book Prize of the Society for the History of Children and Youth
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Product details

  • Hardback | 408 pages
  • 160 x 231.1 x 33mm | 589.68g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 0195152808
  • 9780195152807

Review quote

This beautifully written and well-argued book.... is a major contribution to Cold War studies and the history of American culture, American childhood, and the American left in the twentieth century. * Lisa Jacobson, American Historical Review * Learning from the Left is a compelling and highly readable book. * Rebecca de Schweinitz, H-Net Reviews * A fine book. * Gael Graham, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society * Mickenberg documents a forgotten or ignored field, and encourages the reader to look once again at his or her own familiar turf, and wonder if there is more going on there than has been fully understood. * Gary D. Schmidt, Lion and the Unicorn * A richly detailed cultural history that restores a previously neglected radical past to its proper place. A model of careful, responsible scholarship. * Philip Nel, Children's Literature Association Quarterly * Julia L. Mickenberg's splendid book goes a long way in providing a clear picture of how much a contextualized reading of children's literature can add to the social history of an era. Thankfully, Julia Mickenberg has rescued a history that was disappearing, largely unnoticed. * Christine A. Jenkins, Library Quarterly * A well-written, seminal book. * Gilliam Adams, Children's Literature * A fine contribution to the history of children's literature as part of American cultural studies. * Paul C. Mishler, Peace & Change * A richly detailed and incisive account. * Kenneth Teitelbaum, History of Education Quarterly *
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About Julia L. Mickenberg

Julia L. Mickenberg is Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Texas, Austin.
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Rating details

34 ratings
3.91 out of 5 stars
5 35% (12)
4 32% (11)
3 24% (8)
2 6% (2)
1 3% (1)
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