The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century

A panoramic history of the culture of Depression-era America and the Popular Front.
The Cultural Front charts the extraordinary upsurge of cultural activity and theory in America that began during the Great Depression and embraced Disney animators and proletarian novelists alike, alongside Orson Welles, Duke Ellington, John Dos Passos, C. L. R James and Billie Holiday. Spawned by the Popular Front of the Communist Party, it grew to encompass virtually every aspect of high and popular art in the US, instigating one of the most culturally rich and exciting periods in American history.


  • “A truly wonderful piece of history.”
  • “As fresh a synthesis of the distinctive culture of the 1930s and 1940s as you are likely to find anywhere.”
  • “An immense achievement … the most important book yet written on American culture in the age of the CIO.”


  • Listening to Noise Uprising: A playlist and discography

    Michael Denning's Noise Uprising—out tomorrow—offers a radical new reading of the cultural revolution that developed in the half-decade following the 1925 advent of electrical audio recording. These years saw the development and consolidation of a wide range of new musical idioms in port cities across the globe, including Havana's son, Rio’s samba, New Orleans’ jazz, Buenos Aires’ tango, Seville’s flamenco, Cairo’s tarab, Johannesburg’s marabi, Jakarta’s kroncong, and Honolulu’s hula. Below, Denning has assembled a selected discography for the book and an accompanying Spotify playlist.

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Other books by Michael Denning