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Reviews

"A thoughtful contribution to understanding the forces that ushered in modern US culture, with all of its opportunities, limitations, and peculiarities."

"Moskowitz offers important insights into the development of American middle-class ideals of material comfort, and of an emerging shared national culture."

"An ambitious and far-reaching study with implications for material history, business history, and the study of the middle class in America."

"Well-researched, well-written, and convincing... Will certainly influence future discussion of the expansion of the middle class and the consumer culture of the early twentieth century."

"The strength of Marina Moskowtiz’s welcome addition to this body of work lies in the author’s choice of particular case studies, through which the book seeks to discover the role of material culture in defining the American middle class at the beginning of the last century."

"Moskowitz has creatively connected the rise of national culture and middle-class America to the emergence of a generally accepted standard of living."

"Imaginative, insightful, and lively... required reading for anyone interested in understanding how the United States became the quintessential middle-class nation."

"In this well-researched monograph, Marina Moskowitz traces the evolution of the American concept of the standard of living from 1870 to the 1920s through fascinating case studies on silverplate flatware, bathroom fixtures, mail-order homes, and zoning plans."

"Moskowitz's well-written and extensively researched book investigates how the concept of the 'standard of living' became the measure of middle-class well-being and the material expression of middle-class identity during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era."

"Refusing to recognize boundaries between social science and the novel, this innovative history rejects divisions between cultural and business history. Marina Moskowitz probes the 'standard of living' as a liminal aspiration between production and consumption that defined the American 'middle class' through the objects and spaces of the home in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries."

"At first glance, a study that offers in-depth case studies of such items as flatware and zoning plans might not sound like an energizing pageturner. However, Marina Moskowitz's book is both of these things and more. Moskowitz uses the stories of everyday items to craft a persuasive case for the emergence of a new, national standard of living in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century America."

"A compelling argument for the complexity and pervasiveness of a shared fascination with a standard of living."

"Exceedingly well-written, clearly organized, and abundantly researched. There is nothing in the scholarly literature quite like this."