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Publisher's Summary

Every year has its share of notable events, but some years seem to capture the essence of a decade in a handful of months. The year 1954 is one such year. It began in January with a celebrity marriage heard round the world and then progressed through a series of major political, social, and cultural milestones that would echo through the next several decades.

The years following World War II were a time of increased wealth and confidence, years that saw the rise of a solid, increasingly powerful middle class in America. With rising wages, major developments in consumer goods and entertainment, increasing opportunities for housing and education, amazing medical breakthroughs, the spread of interstate highways - it was a decade of optimism for many after the horrors of depression and war. But the 1950s were also years of increasing Cold War paranoia and unrest among the disenfranchised Americans that were not experiencing the same freedom and prosperity as their fellow citizens.

With the 10 lectures of How 1954 Changed History, you will travel back to a pivotal year in a decade that is often viewed in terms of the black-and-white simplicity of cheerful mid-century sitcoms. However, the issues of the decade were actually as vibrant and contradictory as any other period in American history. Professor Michael Flamm will take you through the battle against polio, the Red Scare that gripped the nation, the domestic impact of foreign conflicts, and the groundbreaking case of Brown v. Board of Education. As you look at these events and much more, you will see how the year 1954 showcases both some of the best and some of the worst times of 20th-century America. 

©2019 Audible Originals, LLC (P)2020 Audible Originals, LLC.

Our favorite moments from How 1954 Changed History

Lecture 1, Chapter 2
  • Lecture 1, Chapter 2
The celebrity wedding of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio
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Lecture 2, Chapter 3
  • Lecture 2, Chapter 3
Reaction to the hydrogen bomb
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Lecture 3, Chapter 4
  • Lecture 3, Chapter 4
Fighting against waves of panic and pain
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  • Lecture 1, Chapter 2
  • The celebrity wedding of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio
  • Lecture 2, Chapter 3
  • Reaction to the hydrogen bomb
  • Lecture 3, Chapter 4
  • Fighting against waves of panic and pain

About the Professor

Dr. Michael Flamm is Professor of History at Ohio Wesleyan University, where he has received three teaching prizes—including the university’s highest honor, the Bishop Herbert Welch Meritorious Teaching Award. He earned his BA from Harvard College and his PhD from Columbia University. As a Fulbright Scholar, Professor Flamm has taught at San Andrés University in Buenos Aires. In addition, he has served as a faculty consultant to the National Endowment for the Humanities, the College Board, and the National Academy of Sciences. In 2019, he was elected to a three-year term on the executive board of the Organization of American Historians, the largest professional association dedicated to the teaching and study of US history.

Professor Flamm is the author of In the Heat of the Summer: The New York Riots of 1964 and the War on Crime and Law and Order: Street Crime, Civil Unrest, and the Crisis of Liberalism in the 1960s. He is the co-author of several books, including Debating the Reagan Presidency and Debating the 1960s: Liberal, Conservative, and Radical Perspectives. He has also published numerous articles and reviews.

What listeners say about How 1954 Changed History

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Fascinating history

A series of 10 lectures, each about 30 minutes long, covering some of the major events and trends in the US that first emerged in 1954. I thought I knew a lot about these events, but Michael Flamm has managed to find fascinating anecdotes and important connections which added immensely to my understanding of the era.

Throughout Flamm finds ways to connect the strands of the story to each other, and to our own time. For anyone between the ages of 30 and 75 or so, Flamm's analysis makes it easy to see how the events of 1954 helped form the world in which we grew up, and also to see how many of the models created in that year are changing rapidly in the current century. The section on the development of the polio vaccine is particularly relevant for our COVID-19 historical moment.

In addition, Flamm has a pleasant, resonant baritone that makes the lectures a pleasure to listen to.

Strongly recommended.

5 people found this helpful

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Excellent Course

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book/course. The writing is wonderful, the topics are thoughtfully presented, and Mr. Flamm’s narration is excellent. I highly recommend it. I can’t wait for his next Audible course!

2 people found this helpful

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Great book

The story weaves together very well. History was put into perspective. Easy to listen to and well read. I was born in 1954 and had no idea that I was a baby in such history altering year.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent

Narration is crystal clear and compels attention.

Stories are of important events and matters and memorable, important people. Lots of interesting details.

Highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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A Fascinating Look at the Mid-20th Century

Some years seem to collect monumental events, and in this fascinating Great Courses book, Michael Flamm explores some truly world-shaking ones that occurred in 1954. This is the year of the Eisenhower presidency that the Supreme Court ruled unanimously to end de jure racial segregation in American schools in Brown v. Board of Education. It also saw a polio vaccine introduced and the birth of rock and roll. The French lost the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in modern day Vietnam setting in motion circumstances that would lead America to become militarily involved in that country. At the same time, Eisenhower decided to overthrow democracy in Guatemala under the dubious argument that this would somehow protect democracy in the United States. It was also the year that Joseph McCarthy fell, while at the same time, the U.S. moved to include the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, and “In God We Trust” became the national motto, also as part of the anti-communist positioning of the country. Overall, it’s a very interesting snapshot of the U.S. in the middle of the twentieth century.

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yeah some good stuff

I haven't really listened to Great courses but they're bundled with the subscription so yeah It's worth it I guess

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Entertaining and Informative

Narrator's voice and cadence is easy to listen to. Informative and entertaining. Get it.

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Outstanding!

This is an excellent historical text which vicariously imparts a seminal year in American history.

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enlightening

This series of lectures reveals more than the important events of 1954. It gives the background and affect, the beginning and endings forming a full narrative.

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Wonderful lectures.

Loved it! I am a child of the 50's and of history. Very well presented.