23 June, 2007|
Local author takes on the 1950s
By Dan Daly, Journal staff
RAPID CITY -- Writer John Quinn usually writes about business and finance, not Ernest Hemingway, Dwight Eisenhower or Elvis Presley.
However, Quinn's new book, "American Zenith, The Fabulous '50s," deals with those subjects and more as he looks at America's watershed decade.
But the Rapid City writer said his idea for this book grew out of his business experience.
Initially, he planned to write a series of profiles of most influential business moguls of the 1950s: Entertainment entrepreneur Walt Disney, financial giant Charles Merrill, McDonald's Ray Kroc and Levittown's William Levitt. Each changed the way we live, eat, invest and entertain ourselves, he said.
From there, Quinn expanded the scope of his book to examine all of the other events and trends that trace back to the 1950s. In the past he studied the Roaring '20s and the Soaring '90s.
"The third really super, big-boom decade of the 20th century was the 1950s," he said. "I decided to go back and take a look at the 1950s, because I was a kid and I remember all that stuff."
Quinn grew up in Rapid City. He went on to a career as a securities analyst, portfolio manager and investment executive. He worked in New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore. He also worked in Washington on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch.
In recent years, he has been living, teaching and writing in Rapid City. He is a senior professor and director of external relations at National American University's Rapid City campus.
His self-published, $22 book came out in early June. Quinn said word-of-mouth buzz has generated respectable sales. It's currently on sale at Borders, and Quinn has been shopping the title to publishers for wider distribution.
The book itself -- 314 pages, 700 footnotes and 200 sources -- runs the gamut of subject matter.
In the '50s, construction began on the 41,000-mile interstate highway system, the largest public-works project in history. The GI Bill opened the doors of education and housing to an entire generation of men. Rock 'n' roll was born. So was television. Polio was cured, but the threat of nuclear war loomed over the decade.
Quinn also peeks at South Dakota's role in American history during the 1950s. Sen. Karl Mundt was a key player in the Alger Hiss spy case. Alfred Hitchcock filmed "North By Northwest" in the Black Hills.
The economy boomed in the 1950s, and the stock market tripled. While Europe and Asia rebuilt after World War II, Americans had 40 percent of the world's wealth.
"That's one reason why I named the book 'American Zenith.' Somebody asked me if that means we've gone downhill or declined. I said, 'No, but relatively speaking, we were never more politically and economically powerful than we were in the '50s,'" Quinn said.
Contact Dan Daly at 394-8421 or email@example.com
Toni, and all classmates,|
I had mentioned at your farewell party here that my new book "American
Zenith: The Fabulous 1950's, The Decade That Made Modern America" would soon be
completed. It is a nostalgic look at everything in the 1950's, from the
politics, the economy, the rise of rock 'n roll, baseball, boxing (Rocky Marciano),
Hogan and Snead in golf, Arthur Godfrey and Edward R. Murrow, the Salk vaccine,
Sputnik, Alfred Hitchcock, the birth of McDonald's, and hundreds of other
topics. It also has Elvis, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, the Boston Celtics, and
The book went on sale today here at the Borders store in Rapid City, and I
will take it nationwide over the rest of the year (took a year and half to
write it, but it was fun, like going back in a time machine). Plus send copies to
the press and opinion makers (like Opra, Larry King, Bill O'Reilly, et al).
For those of you in RC, it's there, at Borders, on Haines Avenue. Outside of
RC, just call Borders, 605-342-4167, if you want to order a copy. I'll be
happy to inscribe anyone's copy---with something more fitting than what we
wrote to each other in the 1961 Pine Cones!!!!