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Through the perspectives of selected best-selling novels from the end of World War II to the end of the 20th century—including The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Godfather, Jaws, Beloved, The Silence of the Lambs, and Jurassic Park—this book examines the crucial issues the U.S. was experiencing during those decades. These novels represent the voices of popular conversations, as Americans considered issues of family, class, racism and sexism, feminism, economic ambition, sexual violence, war, law, religion and science. Through the windows of fiction, the book surveys the Cold War and anti-communism, the prefeminist era of the 1950s and the sexual revolution of the 1970s, forms of corporate power in the 1960s and 1980s, the traumatic legacies of slavery and Vietnam, the American fascination with lawyers, cops and criminals, alternate styles of romance in the era of late capitalism, our abiding distrust of science, and our steadfast wonder about the Great Mysteries.