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Amusing the Million Coney Island at the Turn of the Century

John F. Kasson

Hill and Wang

0809001330

9780809001330

Trade Paperback

128 Pages

$17.00

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Coney Island: the name still resonates with a sense of racy Brooklyn excitement, the echo of beach-front popular entertainment before World War I.  Amusing the Million examines the historical context in which Coney Island made its reputation as an amusement park and shows how America's changing social and economic conditions formed the basis of a new mass culture. Exploring it afresh in this way, John Kasson shows Coney Island no longer as the object of nostalgia but as a harbinger of modernity—and the many photographs, lithographs, engravings, and other reproductions with which he amplifies his text support this thesis.

REVIEWS

Praise for Amusing the Million

"This is what a history of popular culture should be: a delightful account of a fascinating subject and a serious contribution to our understanding of major transition in American culture."—John G. Cawelti, University of Chicago

"Brilliant . . . Through skillfully chosen photographs and highly imaginative careful analysis, Kasson implicitly argues that Coney Island was American appetite, America-as-joke, incarnate . . . Meticulous and exciting, [Amusing the Million is] clearly destined to be a classic in the still inchoate field of popular culture."—Ann Douglas, The New Republic

"Because he treats our frivolities seriously, John Kasson has produced an important book which helps us all understand ourselves. His inquiry into the nature and significance of Coney Island as part of the American experience provides a brilliant device for understanding major transformations in American culture at the turn of the century . . . A delight to read, look at, and ponder...itself a great amusement for the mind."—Warren Susman, Rutgers University

"Not only delightful reading but a perceptive look at a familiar American institution..Social-cultural history ought to be done this way more often."—Russel B. Nye, Michigan State University

Reviews from Goodreads

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BOOK EXCERPTS

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Amusing the Million
Coney Island: the name still resonates with a sense of excitement, the echo of an earlier age. Once commanding two miles of beach on the southwestern end of Long Island, the amusement center has seen its domain dwindle to an area sixteen blocks long and two wide. Coney now lives largely on the borrowed capital of its past. It wears an air of faded glory, making it a favorite subject of Sunday-supplement articles and anecdotal tributes. But despite the nostalgia Coney Island arouses, the historical context in which it established its enduring national reputation remains n
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • John F. Kasson

  • John F. Kasson, who teaches history and American studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the author of Houdini, Tarzan and the Perfect Man, Amusing the Million, Rudeness and Civility, and Civilizing the Machine.
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