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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

Critic Reviews

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

What listeners say about Only Yesterday

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    110
  • 4 Stars
    53
  • 3 Stars
    20
  • 2 Stars
    7
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    5
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    90
  • 4 Stars
    38
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    11
  • 2 Stars
    3
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    8
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    87
  • 4 Stars
    38
  • 3 Stars
    16
  • 2 Stars
    3
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    4

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Escape the Now

If you’re sick of politics now, this wonderful book is for you. The title suggests nostalgia, but it’s really political, social, and cultural history, written in a very accessible way. I had no idea there were so many similarities between the 20’s and the present, so much political skulduggery, so much sex and fashion, so much media hype. My only quibble is that there are lots of statistics thrown in, but there’s plenty of plain colorful information and good gossip too.How much do you know about President Harding and his wife? Listen and learn! I absolutely loved almost every minute, and the narrator does a good job, except for an occasional mispronounciation. If you enjoy mental time travel, take this trip.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Al
  • 03-23-10

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?

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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?

n/a

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

n/a

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.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

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.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

keeps the reader engaged

It is a everyman's view of history among other unique factors. Well read, interesting objective perspective.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The More Things Change the More We Repeat the past

Very well-written story of the 1920’s with a look back at family life, politics, culture changes, finance, and more. What really stood out to me were the similarities of the 21st century to the early 20th.

The narration was spot on, reminding me of the newsreels from that era.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great look into the 20s from someone who actually lived it

What is so interesting about this book is the closeness with which the author described the time of the roaring 20s. (Written in 1931) Great to have the first hand perspective that doesn’t exist any longer. Only criticism with the audio book is there is a noticeable echo of the narrators voice when he pauses to begin a new section.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Comprehensive read for the history buff

The writing was on point, the subject well-researched, great reader but there was an echo throughout the book that was very distracting...