American Dreams, American Nightmares

Culture and Crisis in Residential Real Estate from the Great Recession to the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Daniel Horowitz

318 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 19 halftones, notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7150-5
    Published: November 2022
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-7149-9
    Published: November 2022
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-7151-2
    Published: November 2022
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6328-7
    Published: November 2022

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Two decades punctuated by the financial crisis of the Great Recession and the public health crisis of COVID-19 have powerfully reshaped housing in America. By integrating social, economic, intellectual, and cultural histories, this illuminating work shows how powerful forces have both reflected and catalyzed shifts in the way Americans conceptualize what a house is for, in an era that has laid bare the larger structures and inequities of the economy.

Daniel Horowitz casts an expansive net over a wide range of materials and sources. He shows how journalists and anthropologists have explored the impact of global economic forces on housing while filmmakers have depicted the home as a theater where danger lurks as elites gamble with the fates of the less fortunate. Real estate workshops and popular TV networks like HGTV teach home buyers how to flip—or flop—while online platforms like Airbnb make it possible to play house in someone else's home. And as the COVID pandemic took hold, many who had never imagined living out every moment at home found themselves cocooned there thanks to corporations like Amazon, Zoom, and Netflix.

About the Author

Daniel Horowitz is Mary Huggins Gamble Professor Emeritus of American Studies at Smith College. He is the author of many books, including Entertaining Entrepreneurs: Reality TV's "Shark Tank" and the American Dream in Uncertain Times.
For more information about Daniel Horowitz, visit the Author Page.


“Horowitz takes readers through a deep dive into the history and culture of residential real estate in the United States. . . . This book offers a distinctive contribution to housing studies by combining the Great Recession with the COVID-19 housing crisis and situating them within a larger historical framework. . . . . The work provides an interdisciplinary investigation from cultural anthropology, history, sociology, economics, and political science."—Journal of the American Planning Association

"Sharp and thoughtful . . . A good and provocative read. . . . Highly recommended."—CHOICE

"An engaging book that should interest readers of the real estate and financial press as well as historians, social scientists, and others."—Kenneth James Lipartito, coauthor of Corporate Responsibility: The American Experience

"Highly original and fascinating, Horowitz's ambitious study not only provides an in-depth analysis of various kinds of homes and their inhabitants but also uses the home as a window into historical processes like the impact of the Great Recession and the rise of neoliberalism."—Elaine Tyler May, author of Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era