Hip: The History is the story of how American pop culture has evolved throughout the twentieth century to its current position as world cultural touchstone. How did hip become such an obsession? From sex and music to fashion and commerce, John Leland tracks the arc of ideas as they move from subterranean Bohemia to Madison Avenue and back again. Hip: The History examines how hip has helped shape -- and continues to influence -- America's view of itself, and provides an incisive account of hip's quest for authenticity.
This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.
What is hip? Leland has researched contemporary answers to that question for Spin, Details and the New York Times, and now probes deeper for a rigorous historical analysis that goes beyond the usual hot spots of the Lost Generation and the Harlem Renaissance, encompassing colonial plantations, animation studios, pulp magazine racks and the latest hipster hangouts. The story of hip is largely the story of American race relations, and Leland addresses the ways whites and blacks have interpreted and imitated one another from many angles, as assuredly perceptive when he analyzes Al Jolson's blackface persona as he is exploring the dynamic between bop jazz and Beat Generation writers. Refusing to either champion or condemn "the white boy who stole the blues," Leland presents readers with an accessible model of complex social forces. The breadth and sophistication of his argument is admirable, but it wouldn't be as convincing without his engaging tone, which shuns condescension to invite readers into a genial conversation Leland even jokes about how the nature of hipness might date his book. Leland needn't worry: though hip will always be a matter of perception, few will be able to read this eclectic history without agreeing it's on to something. 49 b&w photos. and author appearances, Leland's chronicle should reach all those who dig pop culture studies, whether they're fans of Miles Davis or the White Stripes.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Hip: the history is fabulous. It's a difficult start and it took me awhile to get through, but I enjoyed reading leland's account of the evolution of pop culture and the notion of "hip." this is a great book for any anthropologically inclined hipster.
Run, run so far
This book. Oh god this book. It is a rambling, painful bundle of dictionary vomit. I am being forced to read this book for a college class, and being an avid reader I thought “hey! Maybe this’ll be interesting.” Oh my was I wrong. This is perhaps the most dull, headache inducing book I have ever read. It is like the author needed an excuse to exert his education and mental prowess on the world and out of that came this book. It hurts me to read. It makes little sense and is written in such a complicated roundabout way that it is almost intelligible. It is little more than a book of rambles by one who thinks himself very VERY smart. If you have the option to not read this monstrosity, take it. It is already too late for me.
I use this as the primary text for a college cultural studies course about pop culture, technology, media and the ongoing influence these things have on our lives.
It is absolutely outstanding. Leland covers a lot of territory, makes fascinating observations and introduces readers to interesting historical figures that they should be familiar with ... but may not be.