Beginning in the late nineteenth century, a new influx of immigrants from eastern and southern Europe arrived to trade Old World politics and poverty for New World uncertainties. Industrialization also powered an internal population migration from farm to factory and from south to north. In crowded northern cities, mechanization turned laboring men and women into producers and consumers of a proliferating range of commodities. The technological innovations that drove this new economy also made books available and affordable for the masses. The decades after World War I witnessed a golden age of American fiction, which combined terse realism with social idealism.
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