Subjects Freshman Year Reading African American Studies African Studies American Studies Anthropology Art, Film, Music and Architecture Asian Studies Business and Economics Criminology Education Environmental Studies Foreign Language Instructional Materials Gender Studies History Irish Studies Jewish Studies Latin American & Caribbean Studies Law and Legal Studies Literature and Drama Literature in Spanish Media Issues, Journalism and Communication Middle East Studies Native American Studies Philosophy Political Science Psychology Reference Religion Russian and Eastern European Studies Science and Mathematics Sociology Study Aids

E-Newsletters: Click here to be notified of new titles in your field
Click here to request Desk/Exam copies
Freshman Year Reading
View Our Award Winners
Click here to view our Catalogs
Land of Desire

Land of Desire

Upgrade to the Flash 9 viewer for enhanced content, including the ability to browse & search through your favorite titles.
Click here to learn more!

Order Exam Copy
E-Mail this Page Print this Page
Add This - Land of Desire

Written by William R. LeachAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by William R. Leach

  • Format: Trade Paperback, 560 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • On Sale: September 6, 1994
  • Price: $19.95
  • ISBN: 978-0-679-75411-4 (0-679-75411-3)
Also available as an eBook.
about this book

Finalist for the National Book Award

Land of Desire tells the story of a fundamental transformation in the culture and economy of America—the rise of mass-market consumerism and the attendant shift to a society preoccupied with consumption, well-being, luxury, and acquisition. Tracing the ascendancy of mass-market culture from its beginnings in the 1890s, Leach reveals how pioneering and visionary merchant princes—John Wanamaker, the Straus brothers, Marshall Field, and A.T. Stewart—constructed the modern department store business and lured millions of buyers with remarkable feats of showmanship. Spectacular displays with dazzling light and color effects were part of the pageantry employed to entice Americans into the pleasure of consumption and indulgence. Famous architects and stage designers were enlisted to create the proper atmosphere, and they became part of a complex network of relationships involving banks, hotels, churches, museums, universities, and government that helped these merchants, in effect, create and disseminate a new mentality predicated on acquisition and consumption as a means of achieving happiness. Land of Desire raises disturbing questions about how the work ethic of an earlier America was superseded by a new consumer culture that came to dominate, reshape, and ulimately define America.

“An extraordinary work of history, imaginatively conceived, thoroughly researched and absorbingly written. William Leach allows us to see the production of mass consumer culture and to see it whole, in its richness and its poverty. It is a fascinating and troubling tale, and Leach tells it with exceptional skill and sensitivity.” —Jean-Christophe Agnew, Yale University

“A major reinterpretation of our cultural experience, Land of Desire is a brilliant, evocative, and highly readable study by an original, honest and courageous historian who has seen to the heart of American commercial culture. In a society in debt to the licentious 1980s and unfortunately still attempting to achieve social justice though endless growth, this is required reading.” —Mary O. Furner, University of California, Santa Barbara