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Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s (original 1931; edition 2000)

by Frederick Lewis Allen

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687813,880 (4.14)50
Member:susanbooks
Title:Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s
Authors:Frederick Lewis Allen
Info:Harper Perennial Modern Classics (2000), Edition: 1st Perennial Classics Ed, Paperback, 338 pages
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Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920's by Frederick Lewis Allen (1931)

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I started reading this book on May 19, 1946. The next day I said: "Reading in Only Yesterday. Golly, what queer people lived in the 1920's." I made no further comment on the book but I well remember that I was utterly fascinated by the account of the 1920's, of which I had no memory whatsoever since I was born in 1928. ( )
  Schmerguls | Jul 18, 2013 |
Allen looks at the 1920s in a way that would be impossible today. He wrote the book in 1931, while the nation was in the early throes of the Great Depression. More recent accounts look at the 'twenties with the realization of the length and depth of the depression.

Allen covers it all--from flappers to prohibition, from gangsters to fundamentalists, from the red scare to the mania over Florida property, and from Babe Ruth to Charles Lindbergh. He is quite hard on the Republican presidents of the decade, blaming them for allowing the economy to rev too fast and ultimately collapse. He even delves into the belief that Harding's death was not from natural causes. What emerges in the pages of his book is a nation full of confidence (perhaps even hubris) that nothing bad could ever happen. If something bad did happen, it would only be temporary. He even notes that Herbert Hoover claimed that the US had banished poverty.

This is a well-written social history of the US during the roaring 'twenties, speeding unknowingly to the cliff that was the 1930s. ( )
  w_bishop | Jun 24, 2012 |
I found this to be one of the most fascinating history books I have ever read. The book was originally written in 1931, so the information and comments in the book were untainted by later events. Allen's writing style is casual, informative, and peppered with hilarious asides that kept me engaged through the whole book. My very favorite part was a quotation from John F. Carter in the September 1920 issue of Atlantic Monthly: "The older generation had certainly pretty well ruined this world before passing it on to us. They give us this thing, knocked to pieces, leaky, red-hot, threatening to blow up; and then they are surprised that we don't accept it with the same attitude of pretty, decorous enthusiasm with which they received it, way back in the 'eighties." Sound familiar? I read this simultaneously with a book about 1890-1918, and a book about the stock market in the 2000s, and realized that it is true: the more things change, the more they stay the same. ( )
1 vote tloeffler | Jul 4, 2010 |
I bought this book because it was referred to favorably in two other books I've read: The Great Crash 1929 and Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945. It is an almost contemporaneous history of the US in the 1920s, in that it was written in 1931, and it is fascinating for several reasons. First, despite it being almost "instant history," the author has a great deal of perspective on the decade, including the Teapot Dome scandal (first time I ever understood it), the revolution in "morals," Prohibition, selling swampland in Florida, and the Scopes trial, among other topics. Even more interestingly, it is clear that the roots of what we consider modern US culture today lie in the 20s, when the dramatic growth in automobile ownership and the development of radio began the switch to suburban living and mass national communication, fads, etc. On top of all this, the author has a lively style and a sense of humor.
  rebeccanyc | Apr 14, 2010 |
I found it amazing that one could write a history so soon afterwards with such analytical insight . It was a wonderful summary of the decade which made the reader feel what it would have felt like to live through the decade. Excellent ( )
  snash | Sep 9, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060956658, Paperback)

Prohibition. Al Capone. The President Harding scandals. The revolution of manners and morals. Black Tuesday. These are only an inkling of the events and figures characterizing the wild, tumultuous era that was the Roaring Twenties. Originally published in 1931, Only Yesterday traces the rise if post-World War I prosperity up to the Wall Street crash of 1929 against the colorful backdrop of flappers, speakeasies, the first radio, and the scandalous rise of skirt hemlines. Hailed as an instant classic, this is Frederick Lewis Allen's vivid and definitive account of one of the twentieth century's most fascinating decades, chronicling a time of both joy and terror--when dizzying highs were quickly succeeded by heartbreaking lows.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:56 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

History of the 1920's from the collapse of Wilson and the New Freedom to the collapse of Wall Street and the New Era.

(summary from another edition)

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