Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Book Review: Dance Floor Democracy

Throughout my schooling and especially when I pursued a history minor in college, I thoroughly enjoyed studying World War II-era history. Some of my favorite films take place during that time period, ranging from 'Saving Private Ryan' to the pulpy 'The Rocketeer' and 'Indiana Jones' films.

I received Sherrie Tucker's Dance Floor Democracy: The Social Geography of Memory at the Hollywood Canteen as a NetGalley read, in part, because I was curious about an aspect of World War II-era history that I hadn't seen before. The Canteen was only open for three years, but nearly three million servicemen stopped by the club before or after being sent overseas. The club catered to all servicemembers, including women, and Allied soldiers. Starlets and actors would frequently dance with attendees and everything was free. Warner Bros. even made a film about the canteen towards the tail end of the war.

Sherrie Tucker's book is a very academic study in the history of the war via the nightclub, namely how the jitterbug dance represents the war to some younger generations and how people remember social history. However, I wasn't expecting it to be as academic of a study as it was (not that there's anything wrong with that, just not quite what I had prepared to read). Tucker delves into racism, sexism and other social forces, but is written in an academia-friendly way.

Rating: 2/5 stars. There's a good story to be had here, but it was way more technical than I was expecting, which made it a more difficult read. It veered off into directions that I wasn't expecting and admittedly, I lost interest at the halfway mark. Readers accustomed to university presses and more technical reading will enjoy it, so I can't give it my usual 1-star rating I give to books I don't finish. To the book's credit, it did make me look up more information on the Canteen.

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