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Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity, 1920-1940.
By Roland Marchand. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985. xxii
448 pp. $35.00.)
Never let it be said that historians are not risk takers in the pursuit of their craft: Marc Bloch flew over the fields of rural France in a small plane; Samuel Eliot Morison retraced a voyage of Columbus in a sailing ship. Now Roland Marchand has examined 180,000 advertisements from newspapers and magazines of the 1920s and 1930s. Happily, Marchand has survived with his critical faculties in fine order. His book is a magisterial and convincing study of what he found.
In Marchand's metaphor, advertising was not an accurate reflection of society but a Zerrspiegel, a funhouse mirror, foreshortening disturbing aspects and enlarging …