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Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s | [Frederick Lewis Allen]

Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s

In this span between armistice and depression, Americans were kicking up their heels, but they were also bringing about major changes in the social and political structure of their country. Only Yesterday is a fond, witty, penetrating biography of this restless decade, a delightful reminiscence for those who can remember and a fascinating firsthand look for those who've only heard.
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Publisher's Summary

Jazz, flappers, flasks, rumbleseats, and raccoon coats; Mah Jong, crossword puzzles, marathon dancers, and flagpole sitters; Red Grange, Rudolph Valentino, and Lucky Lindy.

These were the catch words of the roaring, irrepressible '20s. But so were the Boston Police strike, the K.K.K., women's suffrage, Sigmund Freud, Sacco and Vanzetti, Teapot Dome, and Black Tuesday.

In this span between armistice and depression, Americans were kicking up their heels, but they were also bringing about major changes in the social and political structure of their country. Only Yesterday is a fond, witty, penetrating biography of this restless decade, a delightful reminiscence for those who can remember and a fascinating firsthand look for those who've only heard.

©1931 Frederick Lewis Allen; (P)1989 Blackstone Audiobooks

What the Critics Say

"A perfectly grand piece of historical record and synthetic journalism." (Chicago Daily Tribune)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (54 )
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4.2 (23 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Matthew M. Kayes 06-11-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
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    "Loved this book"

    Fascinating review of the 1920s. I enjoyed the entire book. Much of the story concerning youth rebellion, religion and sex could have come right out of the 1960s. Well worth a listen.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Al Rochester, MN, USA 03-23-10
    Al Rochester, MN, USA 03-23-10 Member Since 2004
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    "Good history"

    I read this years ago and was impressed by the practical, everyman approach to a vast, fascinating decade. Listening to it only enhances the experience. How much have we progressed in 90 years?

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim Holland, TX, United States 12-03-13
    Jim Holland, TX, United States 12-03-13 Member Since 2010

    Jumps on his bed while licking the bottom of one foot. He persists in this life affirming act despite interference from the head nurse.

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    "Twenty-three-skidoo, small change"

    This is simply the best social history of the Roaring Twenties in the United States I’ve ever read, better than the recently published One Summer by Bill Bryson. Written in effortless, flowing prose, published in the early 30s with the decade still fresh in the author’s memory (writing as an anti-depressant after his wife and daughter died), re-published for decades, reading it this time was better than my first time as a boy in the 1960s. It is striking how perceptive and prescient Allen is about events. He sorts through them, giving their why and wherefore as an authentic voice from out of the decade. Although a fine writer, Bryson cannot compete with such finely-tuned descriptions set down just after the era passed. Allen has a wonderful eye for detail: dress, hairstyles, morals, slang. Topics range from inventions, books, the League of Nations, crime, tent evangelism, to the American public’s emotional flip-flops of support and rejection, which at publication were recent phases and fads. The book’s phraseology isn’t antiquated and its objectivity doesn’t creak. Only Yesterday is fresh and entertaining nearly a century after it was written, and the best popular social history of America in the 1920s that I know of.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    11-09-13
    11-09-13 Listener Since 2007
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    "1920's brought to life"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Only Yesterday to be better than the print version?

    n/a


    Who was your favorite character and why?

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    Which character – as performed by Grover Gardner – was your favorite?

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    Any additional comments?

    If you want to feel the 20's this is the book. If I had known it was written in or near 1934 I probably wouldn't have bought it. But, that would have been my loss and incorrect assumption. I find that when I read reviews it is best to also read reviews on books I have already read and liked since that gives me a gauge for future reviews, especially on the negative ones.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen Lake Orion, MI, United States 10-27-12
    Ellen Lake Orion, MI, United States 10-27-12
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    "Very dry - not as expected"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I love history, however, this presentation was very dry and made it difficult to stay engaged.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    I love reading history books - will look for something that is a little more engaging.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Monotone voice was difficult to pull me in.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Only Yesterday?

    N/A


    Any additional comments?

    The text would probably be interesting for me to read in book/e-book form. The narration definitely contributed to the difficulty I experienced in staying engaged. I ultimately abandoned this book and wasted the credit.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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