BY NORMAN FINKESTEN
Reviewed by: Vince Dragich
“It was a world of limited choices – black and white television and white bread.”
“When I was your age, I’d walk fifteen miles to school every day. And during the winter, the snow was up to my shoulders. They had winters back then, we loved it.”
Do your grandparents constantly babble about how good life was in the good old days? They’re crazy! The Way Things Never Were: The Truth about the Good Old Days by Norman Finklesten can prove it if you can stand to read through fact after fact of pretty much useless information.
The book is split up into eight sections, each one proving that the United States today is better than it was in the past. Inside each section it lists one way the past wasn’t as good, the list’s reasons why. One example is no constant threat of war. During the 1960s the USA constantly had to be prepared for a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. People would have to own nuclear fallout shelters. In 1962, the Soviet Union sent nuclear missiles to Cuba. Another example is African Americans had little rights unlike today. That changed in 1965 when the Civil Rights Act was passed after a march by African Americans in Washington D.C. The book does teach that you should be grateful for what you have because people in the past had it much worse.
Overall, I don’t care too much for this book. The book has way too many facts, which makes me feel overwhelmed. The book doesn’t read smoothly because there are too many facts. The book is extremely out of date because it was written in the late 1990s. For example, the book babbles on and on for a whole section about VCRs and outdated computers.
The book does do a good job of picture selection. In spite of this though, I would still never recommend this nonfiction bore to anybody besides a historian or to a teacher to use the book as a punishment to students. The only thing this book is really any good for is proving your elderly seventy-five year old grandma with dementia that her memory isn’t working again.