Paperback, 392 pages
Released: January 1997
Blues for America combines an historical critique of the “American Century” with journalistic reports and personal anecdotes. Doug Dowd, an economics professor and long-time troublemaker, traces the socioeconomic history of our country decade by decade in a style reminiscent of Dos Passos’ U.S.A. Blues for America is an engrossing read, filled with incisive observations and biting humor.
A keen observer and storyteller, Dowd was also a participant in this history. His personal stories include: a behind the scenes description of a battleship photo-op for General MacArthur during World War II; Cornell University faculty-board meetings at the height of the McCarthy era, where some decidedly nonprofessional remarks fly; travels through Vietnam and Laos with Noam Chomsky in 1970, where he unexpectedly discovers Ross Perot; and many others. Blues for America makes FDR, the Depression, Ike, Korea, Vietnam, and all the movements of the 1960s vividly real for readers of all ages.
Dowd is capable of the kind of vivid personal observations that history books often miss.
Is it possible for a political-economic history of the twentieth century to be warm, funny, and lovable? In Doug Dowd’s hands, yes. Blues for America is a scholar’s deft survey of everything that happened between the 1920s and the 1990s — depressions, repressions, segregation, and wars — and the resistance that arose to each in turn, related with surprising wit and an amazingly gracious turn of phrase. And by weaving in bits of autobiography, Dowd has given us much more.
A vivid, witty, moving account of much of the history of this century by someone who was there when it mattered.
Personal, provocative, and elegantly written, Blues for America ought to be widely read and relished.
A wonderful book by the extraordinary Doug Dowd, scholar, activist, and funny man engaged all his life in the serious pursuit of truth and justice.