The Anxieties of Affluence

Critiques of American Consumer Culture, 1939-1979
A wide-ranging exploration of conflicting American attitudes toward affluence.


This book charts the reactions of prominent American writers to the unprecedented prosperity of the decades following World War II. It begins with an examination of Lewis Mumford’s wartime call for “democratic” consumption and concludes with an analysis of the origins of President Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” speech of 1979. Between these bookends, Daniel Horowitz documents a broad range of competing views, each in its own way reflective of a deep-seated ambivalence toward consumer culture.

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