I have been very lucky that during the writing of this book the 1950s has once again come into full view, with fifty-year commemorations and renewed interest in the decade reenergising a period that has been put to rest many times over. When Warren Susman explored the idea of a 'usable past' in the mid-1960s, he could not have predicted the number of occasions since then that the 1950s has been read, reread and misread. This book is just one attempt among others to revive interest in the cultural vitality of a decade that is often written off as anodyne and one-dimensional.
My first debt is to the students at the University of Leicester who have taken my final-year module Containment and Resistance in 1950s and 1960s American Culture over the last seven years, and who have helped me realize that when it comes to direct comparison the 1960s does not hold all the cultural aces. I am thankful for their lively discussions and for making me return with fresh eyes to aspects of the decade I thought I knew well. Secondly, I would like to thank colleagues at Leicester, particularly my Heads of Department Elaine Treharne and Richard Foulkes, for supporting my research, and Guy Barefoot, Nick Everett, Sarah Graham, George Lewis, Paul Marygold, Andy Mousley, Mark Rawlinson and Annette Saddik for valuable comments on sections of the manuscript. Thanks also go to the members of the Intellectual History Group at Jesus College, Cambridge; to Bridget Bennett, James Dale, Michael Eaton, Pete Groshl, Michael Hoar, Joel Isaac, Andrew Johnstone, Richard King, Peter Kuryla, Catherine Morley, Sue Porter, Jon Powell, Graham Thompson, Greg Walker and Imelda Whelehan for their interest in the project; and to Nicola Ramsey at Edinburgh University Press for her professionalism and friendship.
My gratitude goes to the British Academy and the Department of English at the University of Leicester for the funding and study leave