Golden Oldies

TITLE: THE FIFTIES

AUTHOR: DAVID HALBERSTAM

PUBLISHER: VILLARD; 800 PAGES; $27.50

THE BOTTOM LINE: Though he never dives deep, Halberstam offers an engrossing sail across a pivotal decade.

The 1950s is remembered more for its sociology than for its politics. After a decade of depression and four years of war, the nation was hell-bent on normality. Neither the Korean conflict nor McCarthyism could distract Americans from their rush to claim a place in the rapidly expanding middle class. The standard rerun of the period features sincere men in gray flannel suits and contented women in kitchen aprons smiling at Mr. Clean....

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