What It Felt Like:
Living in the American Century

by Henry Allen

What It Felt Like (Pantheon Books)

Pantheon Books (2000). x + 159pp. 5.75 x 7.385 inches. Hardcover. ISBN-10: 0-375-42063-0.


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From the Book Jacket

About the Book

This treasure of a book gives us a vivid and captivating evocation of the social, cultural, and spiritual tenor of the twentieth century, decade by remarkable decade.

Henry Allen — veteran feature writer and editor at the Washington Post — reminds us of just how it was: “the champagne disenchantment of the tuxedo twenties. Husbands who lost Depression jobs and hid in their houses for shame, the October morning energy of the postwar forties, the dusty heat of fifties television sets, the smell of Vitalis on men's hair, women in gloves that felt sexy touching your skin, men who whistled (with trills) and wore hats tipped to one side, the barefoot LSD weddings when the universe seemed a conspiracy in everyone's favor.…”

Each of these ten chapters is a virtual time capsule written with keen intelligence, feeling, and an uncanny sense of the essential experiences of the era: the unexpected, idiosyncratic sights, sounds, occasions, and events that defined not just the time but the way we remember it. This is a book of myriad pleasures — a reminder, as we plunge headlong into the future, of the richness and importance of our past.

About the Author

Henry Allen was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2000. He has been a feature writer and editor for the Washington Post since 1970. His previous books include a novel, Fool's Mercy, and a collection of essays, Going Too Far Enough. He has written for The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, the Paris Review, and Vogue. He lives in Takoma Park, Maryland.

Jacket design by Archie Ferguson.


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