"The Fifties" is a sweeping social, political, economic, and cultural history of the ten years that David Halberstam regards as seminal in determining what our nation is today. It is the decade of Joe McCarthy and the young Martin Luther King, the Korean War and Levittown, Jack Kerouac and Elvis Presley. Halberstam not only gives us the titans of the age - Eisenhower, Dulles, Oppenheimer, MacArthur, Hoover, and Nixon - but also Harley Earl, who put fins on cars; Dick and Mac McDonald and Ray Kroc, who mass-produced the American hamburger; Kemmons Wilson, who placed his Holiday Inns along the nation's roadsides; U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers; Grace Metalious, who wrote Peyton Place; and "Goody" Pincus, who led the team that invented the Pill. Here is a portrait of a time of conflict, at once an age of astonishing material affluence and a period of great political anxiety. We follow, among other things, the quickening pace of American life and the powerful impact of national television, still in its infancy, on American society: from the Kefauver hearings to "I Love Lucy" to Charles Van Doren and the quiz-show scandals to the young John Chancellor of NBC covering the Little Rock riots and holding up a disturbing mirror to America.
David Halberstam was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the author of numerous books, including The Best and the Brightest, The Powers That Be, The Reckoning, Summer of '49, Playing for Keeps, and War in a Time of Peace. He died in April 2007.