This book traces changes in what it means to be a dad in America, from the 1960s through today. Beginning with an overview of fatherhood in America from the “founding fathers” through the 1950s, the book progresses to the role of fathers as they were encouraged to move beyond being simply providers to becoming more engaged parents.
Samuel (Death, American Style), a onetime "confirmed bachelor" who became a father at age 55, examines the evolution of American fatherhood from the mid-1960s to current day in this well-researched book. Readers looking for poignant moments in parenting won't find it here. This is a (mostly) objective study of how fatherhood has changed as the roles of men and women have evolved. For example, in the 1970s, "bachelor fathers," single by divorce, were an oddity, and a father gaining custody of a child was notable. Using a wide array of resources, including popular magazines, books, and television shows, Samuel shows how fathers have moved past the "invisible parent" stage of the 1980s into the "fatherhood movement" of the 1990s, becoming more comfortable in their role as fathers without simply trying to emulate mothers. Samuel's assessment is often candid; he quotes several men who admit, in the words of one, that fatherhood "might have been a mistake." Samuel devotes scant space to gay fathers, and an unnecessary amount of time to the supposed trend for male nannies, or "mannies." Nonetheless, on the whole, this is a strong, educational, and informed resource.