The Shook-Up Generation

I laughed when I saw this book on the table in Brandy’s store. I mean, that cover! So period! Brandy’s Crest paperback copy will cost you more than thirty-five cents, sorry. In some ways a perfect cover, showing young toughs in leather jackets and girls in (gasp!) jeans, the cover also misses the mark, I think. Or at least it does for me now. It might have resonated more in 1958 when it came out.

The paperback has a brief introduction by Eleanor Roosevelt, stating how important our families are, and how the problem of juvenile delinquency must be addressed.

Salisbury, the author, won the Pulitzer Prize twice. He worked for the New York Times, helming the Moscow Bureau for a while; he covered the Civil Rights movement and in the later years of his career worked in China, including covering the Tiananmen Square uprising. Obviously a serious journalist, writing a serious book. The hardback cover is a little less sensational and probably matched the book better

But isn’t this really a drugstore paperback, the kind of book you’d find on a spinner rack? Were they aiming this at suburban housewives? (I mean, wouldn’t they be checking it out from the library?) I have no clue who they’re marketing to, but I guess you’d buy it for the cover and learn about juvenile unrest before you realized what you were doing. It would be like packaging Jane Mayer’s Dark Money with a lurid cover and hiding it in the thriller section. Maybe that was the intent.

Another thing I can’t overlook; this book was non-fiction. With our fixation nowadays on genres, sub-genres, sub-sub-genres, demographic groups and so on, it’s even more amazing to see this cover on a serious work of journalism. Maybe that’s the best point of all.

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