American Fun

American Fun Cover

American Fun

Four Centuries of Joyous Revolt

By John Beckman

Vintage, Paperback, 9780345803771, 432pp.

Publication Date: November 4, 2014


Here is an animated and wonderfully engaging work of cultural history that lays out America's unruly past by describing the ways in which cutting loose has always been, and still is, an essential part of what it means to be an American.
From the time the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, Americans have defied their stodgy rules and hierarchies with pranks, dances, stunts, and wild parties, shaping the national character in profound and lasting ways. In the nation's earlier eras, revelers flouted Puritans, Patriots pranked Redcoats, slaves lampooned masters, and forty-niners bucked the saddles of an increasingly uptight middle class. In the twentieth century, fun-loving Americans celebrated this heritage and pushed it even further: flappers "barney-mugged" in "petting pantries," Yippies showered the New York Stock Exchange with dollar bills, and B-boys invented hip-hop in a war zone in the Bronx.
This is the surprising and revelatory history that John Beckman recounts in "American Fun." Tying together captivating stories of Americans' "pursuit of happiness"--and distinguishing between real, risky fun and the bland amusements that paved the way for Hollywood, Disneyland, and Xbox--Beckman redefines American culture with a delightful and provocative thesis.
(With black-and-white illustrations throughout.)

About the Author
John Beckman is a professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy. His writing has appeared in "The Washington Post, Granta, Book, McSweeney's, " and "Arizona Quarterly, " among other publications. His novel "The Winter Zoo" was named a "New York Times" Notable Book. Beckman lives in Annapolis, Maryland, with his wife, the critic Marcela Valdes, and their baby daughter.