Book of the Month - May 2013

Much of American culture was made in Chicago, and to understand the country you have to understand its "third coast." So argues Chicago-born-and-raised writer Tom Dyja. His illuminating The Third Coast: When Chicago Built the American Dream, argues that after the Second World War the Windy City functioned as the center of the nation - not just geographically, but also in terms of culture, politics, and business. Innovations such as Mies van der Rohe's glass and steel architecture, Hugh Hefner's Playboy, Chuck Berry's rock and roll, and McDonald's innovative fast food defined modern consumer America. He also describes the end of Chicago's golden era as the election of Richard J. Daley launched a frenzy of new building that came at the expense of the city's creativity and diversity. 

"America," says Dyja, "is a better place when Chicago holds it together." With The Third Coast, Dyja restores Chicago to the central place it once held in the national ethos in a captivating and dazzling alternate history of the American Century.

Thomas Dyja is the author of three novels and two works of non-fiction. A native of Chicago's Northwest Side, he was called a "real Chicago boy" by Studs Terkel.

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