Cover image for The rise and fall of the American teenager
The rise and fall of the American teenager
Hine, Thomas, 1947-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Bard, [1999]

Physical Description:
viii, 322 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
"An Avon book."
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 10.8 25.0 43148.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ796 .H493 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Teenagers occupy a special place in American life. They are envied and sold to, studied and deplored. They seem to be growing up too fast, and always immature. They are barbarians at the gate-and our only hope for a better world. What, then, is this thing called "teenager"-this strong, troubling creature caught somewhere between the rock of youth and the hard place of adulthood? As author Thomas Hine reveals in this groundbreaking work, the teenager is a social invention shaped by the needs of the twentieth century. With intelligence, insight, imagination and humor, Hine traces the culture of youth in America-from the spiritual trials of young Puritans and the vision quests of native Americans to the media-blitzed consumerism of contemporary thirteen-to-nineteen-year-olds. He masterfully examines the ways in which young people have adapted over generations to meet-or at times to revise-the expectations and mores of their time. Here is an extraordinary story of torches passed, a saga of sons and daughters of settlers, immigrants, slaves and farmers coming to terms with their world and building America as they did so. The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager is a story of radical Massachusetts factory girls; teenage coal miners supporting their families; pistol-packing, whiskey-swilling frontier youths-and also of teenagers, dependent young people preparing for their lives by going to school even as they shape their culture as arbiters of the new. Throughout our turbulent history, generations of youths have stood at the forefront of social change-calculating the odds, taking the risks, and learning how to survive and thrive in the times. Thomas Hine's remarkable contribution is a focused study and a glorious appreciation of youth that challenges us to confront our stereotypes, to rethink our expectations and to consider anew the lives of those individuals-some of them living under our roofs-who are, as always, our blessing, our bane, and our future.

Author Notes

Thomas Hine is the author of three previous books: Populuxe, Facing Tomorrow, and The Total Package. He was the architecture and design critic of the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1973 until 1996, during which time he wrote more than 1,000 articles. He is a regular contributor to The Sunday New York Times "Arts and Leisure" section and has also written for Esquire, The New York Times Book Review, GQ, Slate, and other publications. Mr. Hine lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Hine, who was the Philadelphia Inquirer's architecture and design critic from the mid-1970s to 1996, made a bit of a splash with his third book, Populuxe (1987); now he takes on an all-too-timely subject, with an unusual--and likely to be controversial--slant. Although boomers and "the best generation" wring their hands about "kids today," Hine points out that the concept of "the teenager is a recent idea that may not deserve to be an eternal one." After surveying contemporary teenagers' condition and the "physiological, psychological, and cultural dimensions of youth," Hine sketches how young people functioned in homes, businesses, and society from the seventeenth century to the present. Along the way, he traces the fairly recent development of our notions about adolescence, the growth of the high school as the place where most young people spend their teen years, and the post^-World War development of youth culture. Hine acknowledges arguments for our long teen apprenticeship but urges that age segregation and delayed responsibility are not healthy for every teen. --Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

In the first decade of the 21st century, the U.S. will have its largest-ever generation of teenagers. Even if that were not so, this book would be vitally important. Hine (Populuxe) covers 400 years of American history in his fluent, broad-brushed account of the paradoxical position of those enduring their adolescence in American society. Generally viewed as the best of times and as times of madness and despair, the teen years have constantly shifted shape in adult consciousness. Pointing out that the term "teenager" itself is young (it dates from the 1940s, when it described a new consumer market), Hine convincingly rebuts the belief that teendom is a natural stage of human development. He is irritated with his own baby boomer generation for failing to produce a real revolution, comparing its efforts unfavorably with the campus unrest of the 1760s at Yale, Harvard and elsewhere, when students "imbibed the Spirit of the times," and many contributed to the American Revolution. In Hine's view, boomers have gone from blaming their parents for the ills of society to blaming their own children, about whom they hold "deeply contradictory" beliefs. Hine focuses on high school (without which, he contends, "there are no teenagers") as the "weak link" in the educational system, "because Americans have never been able to agree on what it should accomplish" yet cannot imagine young people in roles outside the schools and colleges where they are, he charges, warehoused. Anyone who professes concern about America's future should read and ponder this provocative, well-argued book. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

"Teenagers occupy a special place in society," writes Hine (Populuxe). "They are envied, and sold to, studied and deplored." As a welcome and timely antidote to the current wave of bad press about teens and violence, Hine says we think of teens as predators rather than as victims and suggests that maybe we shouldn't. To help us understand the teenage phenomenon better, he offers a social history of teenagers encompassing several countries and decades. He writes about ways the culture has affected what teenage has meant for youth and how youth have been perceived, as in World War II when teenagers readily took on roles supporting the war effort. Interesting, enjoyable, and multifaceted, Hine's work defies pigeonholing by covering anthropology, psychology, communications, and sociology. A valuable teaching tool in any of the above course areas, it is well researched and includes a good recommended reading list. Highly recommended.ÄSandra Isaacson, OAO Corp/U.S. EPA Technical Research Ctr. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Are Teenagers Necessary?p. 1
1 The Teenage Mystiquep. 10
2 Only a Phase?p. 27
3 Coming of Age in Utter Confusionp. 43
4 Family Valuesp. 57
5 Declarations of Independencep. 76
6 Young Americansp. 95
7 Counting on the Childrenp. 120
8 The Invention of High Schoolp. 138
9 Dangerous Adolescencep. 158
10 Dancing Daughtersp. 177
11 Dead End Kidsp. 203
12 The Teen Agep. 225
13 Boom and Aftershocksp. 249
14 Goths in Tomorrowlandp. 274
15 Life After Teenagersp. 296
Sources and Further Readingp. 305
Indexp. 315