Today, Americans look back nostalgically at the 1950s, an era when television and rock and roll revolutionized popular culture, and Vietnam, race riots, drug abuse, and protest movements were still in the future. With homes in the suburbs, new automobiles, and the latest electrical gadgets, many Americans believed they were the most prosperous people on earth. Yet the era was tainted by the fear of thermonuclear war with the Soviet Union, deepening racial tensions, and discontent with rigid roles for women and the demands of corporate conformity. A sense of rebellion had begun to brew behind the facade. It manifested itself in rock and roll, the budding civil rights movement, and the appearance of a youth culture, eventually exploding in the 1960s. Providing a comprehensive overview, this book includes entries on the prominent people, major events, issues, scandals, ideas, popular culture, and court cases of the decade that gave rise to the tensions of the 1960s.