The Politics of Beauty: The Aesthetic Origins of Environmental Politics in Postwar America, Kyle VanHemert
From Huma Rasheed
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In the mid-1960s, influential Americans flocked to a hot new political issue: man-made ugliness. “Ugly America,” as critics called it at the time, comprised a diverse ensemble of visual offenders: junkyards, billboard, litter, pollution. Formerly “eyesores,” with the coming of postwar abundance, these everyday sights mushroomed into a national menace. In response to public concern, Lyndon Johnson made the preservation of “natural beauty” a national ideal, launching a “war on ugliness” that was cheered by press and public alike. My project recovers this overlooked episode in postwar history, tracing how an unlikely aesthetic crusade put “environment” on the nation’s political agenda.