The American Dream
A Cultural History
Lawrence R. Samuel
Narrated by Claton Butcher
Approximately 10 hours
Book published by Syracuse University Press
There is no better way to understand America than by understanding the cultural history of the American Dream. Rather than just a powerful philosophy or ideology, the Dream is thoroughly woven into the fabric of everyday life, playing a vital role in who we are, what we do, and why we do it. No other idea or mythology has as much influence on our individual and collective lives. Tracing the history of the phrase in popular culture, Samuel gives readers a field guide to the evolution of our national identity over the last eighty years.
Samuel tells the story chronologically, revealing that there have been six major eras of the mythology since the phrase was coined in 1931. Relying mainly on period magazines and newspapers as his primary source material, the author demonstrates that journalists serving on the front lines of the scene represent our most valuable resource to recover unfiltered stories of the Dream. The problem, Samuel reveals, is that it does not exist; the Dream is just that, a product of our imagination. That it is not real ultimately turns out to be the most significant finding and what makes the story most compelling.
Lawrence R. Samuel is the founder of Culture Planning LLC, a Miami– and New York–based resource offering cultural insight to Fortune 500 organizations. He is the author of The End of the Innocence: The 1964–1965 New York World’s Fair, Future: A Recent History, Rich: The Rise and Fall of American Wealth Culture, Freud on Madison Avenue: Motivation Research and Subliminal Advertising in America, Supernatural America: A Cultural History, and a number of other books.
“Larry Samuel takes us over the landscape of the American Dream, a territory that shifts from fresh to fantastic, from bold to downtrodden in the eight decades since James Truslow Adams minted the phrase. A compelling study of how we have made ourselves through an idea that no one can completely define but everyone wants a piece of.”
—Kenneth Lipartito, Florida International University
“Samuel’s book provides a must read for anyone wishing to know how the changing face of the Dream has informed politics, everyday life and even the nation’s identity itself. ”
—Lary May, author of The Big Tomorrow: Hollywood and the Politics of the American Way
“Samuel has provided a fascinating survey of our culture and character, documenting that always elusive definition of just who exactly we really are as a people.”
—John Zogby, author of The Way We’ll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream
All titles are published by:
University Press Audiobooks
an imprint of Redwood Audiobooks