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The Power of the Zoot

Book Digest Odd attire exhibited by youth—tattoos, piercings, and buttock-cleavage trousers—are nothing new. Think tie-dye, sandals, and Native American jewelry, or jeans, T-shirts, and leather jackets with pointy shoes. What is new is attention to minority American cultures; in this case, Luis Alvarez diligently charts a culture’s exemplar, the zoot suit, and connects it to modern fashion and music and a patois and vernacular that mainstreamed the notion of slang. He shows how this culture played out youth rebellion by Mexican, black, and Japanese teens. But more significantly, it is a compelling window into the U.S. in the war years as seen from a much different point of view.
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