The year 1946 was an odd one, suspended between the end of World War II and the start of the Cold War. The U.S. economy was undergoing an uncertain transition away from the turbocharged prosperity of the war years, and it was not yet clear that the next generation would enjoy steadily rising living standards and the birth of an affluent society. The shock of the atom bomb was still new, China was not yet communist, and nobody really knew what the postwar era would bring. This is fertile terrain, but readers who do not already have a strong grasp of the events and chronology of this eventful year will be confused rather than enlightened by Weisbrode’s allusive and indirect approach to historical narrative. And readers well versed enough to follow Weisbrode’s musings hardly need to be reminded that 1946 was an important year. The book is thoroughly researched and thoughtful, but it is overloaded with ruminations and lacking in narrative clarity, ultimately failing to live up to the promise of its conceit.
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