Picks and Pans Review: Great Expectations

updated 11/10/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/10/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Landon Y. Jones

After World War II American couples began producing children at a dizzying rate. It eventually reached more than four million a year and lasted almost two decades. The author describes how this baby boom generation had—and continues to have—a profound effect on this country's cultural, economic and social systems. These children have no memory of the Depression; most were born to TV. Madison Avenue soon discovered and pursued them. Jones' title is intentionally ironic. They went to schools in record numbers, and the quality of their education declined. By the mid-'60s they were rebellious college students, railing against leaders who would send them to war in Asia. They sought happiness in communes and cults, as if it were a divine right. Their sexual openness was new to our society. Yet the same strength in numbers that made them an economic and cultural force is a built-in liability as they now look for jobs and establish families (and, in three decades, when they draw Social Security). The research, ranging from scholarly books to newsmagazines of the period, is lively, but the best of the book comes from the author's insightful observations about TV, movies, music and such landmarks as JFK's assassination, Woodstock and Watergate. Jones is a senior editor of PEOPLE. (Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, $15.95)

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