Anti-Suburbia Books from the 1950s

Mary and John are the unfortunate (fictional) protagonists of The Crack in the Picture Window, published in 1957 by John Keats, a journalist at the now defunct Washington Daily News. A lacerating (and very funny) indictment of postwar suburbs as "fresh-air slums," Keats’s polemic sold millions of copies in paperback. It revolves around the tragicomic story of the Drones, a nice young couple gulled, first, into buying a box at Rolling Knolls Estates, and then into thinking a larger, more expensive box in a different suburb could cure what ailed them.


In The Exurbanites (1955), a droll portrait of the writers and ad men who were then fanning out from Manhattan to the sleepy country towns of Bucks and Fairfield and Rockland counties, A.C. Spectorsky (a magazine and television editor) dubbed those towns "the Psychosomatic Belt." He continued: "A physician with many exurban patients states that he has noticed, among a remarkably high percentage of those who are commuters, what he terms ‘extreme rigidity’ and a notable head of steam built up and (mostly) kept under pressure which he defines as repressed hostility." According to Spectorsky, the doctor cited hay fever, hives, hypertension, back pain, and chronic fatigue as the commuter’s usual disorders.

A quasi-scientific account of widespread male stress is presented in The Split-Level Trap, a bestselling 1961 study of suburban dysfunction by New Jersey psychiatrist Richard Gordon and his psychologist wife, Katherine Gordon. ("A Kinsey report on suburbia," according to a review in the Chicago Daily News.) The Gordons contended that the nation’s new communities were a "Disturbia" of restless and troubled young strivers, a lopsided society that lacked the balance of older, "integrated" towns (integrated by age and class, that is, not race). As suburbia’s men rushed to get ahead, the Gordons claimed, they would be vulnerable to developing early heart disease, especially if they had risen from a lower social class.


Folksonomies: culture suburbia

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/health and fitness/disease/allergies (0.288048)
/art and entertainment/books and literature (0.215672)

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John Keats:Person (0.862694 (neutral:0.000000)), Gordons:Person (0.583904 (positive:0.502175)), A.C. Spectorsky:Person (0.561244 (positive:0.504164)), Rolling Knolls Estates:City (0.493098 (neutral:0.000000)), Washington Daily News:PrintMedia (0.480839 (negative:-0.393104)), Disturbia:Movie (0.479086 (negative:-0.230155)), Drones:Organization (0.442569 (negative:-0.225428)), Psychosomatic Belt:Organization (0.436676 (neutral:0.000000)), Manhattan:City (0.421013 (neutral:0.000000)), Mary:Person (0.420537 (negative:-0.577764)), Richard Gordon:Person (0.419969 (negative:-0.525476)), Rockland:StateOrCounty (0.419217 (positive:0.504164)), Chicago Daily News:PrintMedia (0.410446 (positive:0.307033)), New Jersey:StateOrCounty (0.407764 (positive:0.504164)), editor:JobTitle (0.385030 (positive:0.236435)), Fairfield:City (0.383629 (neutral:0.000000)), Katherine Gordon.:Person (0.372470 (positive:0.380798))

Suburb (0.976670): dbpedia | freebase
Commuting (0.555187): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Social class (0.508496): dbpedia | freebase
Commuter town (0.419561): dbpedia | freebase | yago
John Keats (0.373306): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Gordon (0.372701): dbpedia
Kinsey Reports (0.361727): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Gordon (0.355901): freebase

 Welcome to Disturbia
Electronic/World Wide Web>Internet Article:  Amanda Kolson, Hurley (MAY 25, 2016), Welcome to Disturbia, Retrieved on 2016-05-27
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: suburbs