Yes, "A Privileged Past" is an autobiography – and something more. Structured like a comic opera to evoke the sensuous sources of personal recollection, this book explores the interrelations of public and private memory.
Its narrative is based on the author’s experiences, of course, but also on those of his forebears and their descendants, set in six historical contexts: immigration, social mobility, cultural capital, individual agency, national identity, and public education. These circumstances have driven all Americans’ faith in self, family, and better times, perhaps as early as the arrival of European settlers in the 1600s.
Drawing on documentation such as court and church records, public and private archives, newspapers, verifiable Internet resources and local lore, "A Privileged Past" ultimately focuses on the developments and events shared by suburban, middle-class baby-boomers after World War II. Rapid changes in demography, professional life, popular culture, international conflict and accommodation have shaped, in one way or another, everyone’s chances and choices in life. The text ends with reflections on the on-going impact of recent travel and communications technologies on higher education in global, information-rich economies.
Although much of the tale, its facts and details remain tied to the author’s idiosyncratic world apart – to his family, parents, schooling, marriage, and work at home and abroad – the purpose of his story is to illuminate and celebrate what an entire generation has in common, the collective memory of historical experience from childhood onward, whatever the varied personal origins that experience may have been.
Here is its Prelude. Enjoy.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/james_smith_allen/1/