"Impressively detailed. . . . An authoritative and epic overview."—Publishers Weekly
In the convulsive years between 1920 and 941, Americans were first dazzled by unprecedented economic prosperity and then beset by the worst depression in their history. It was the era of Model T's, rising incomes, scientific management, electricity, talking movies, and advertising techniques that sold a seemingly endless stream of goods. But is was also a time of grave social conflict and human suffering.
The Crash forced Hoover, and then Roosevelt and the nation, to reexamine old solutions and address pressing questions of recovery and reform, economic growth and social justice. The world beyond America changed also in these years, making the country rethink its relation to events in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. The illusion of superiority slowly died in the 1930s, sustaining a fatal blow in December 1941 at Pearl Harbor.
Tucked between the two world wars, the 1920s and 1930s, like the 1890s and 1960s, were pivotal in U.S. social history. In this impressively detailed chronicle, Parrish ( Felix Frankfurter and His Times ) depicts the '20s as a decade of booming economy and free-wheeling gratification (despite Prohibition) with newly available autos, radio, movies, jazz clubs and big-time sports. The nation followed the heroic accomplishments of Jack Dempsey, Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh, Helen Wills and Amelia Earhart. The '30s brought the Great Depression of closed banks, idle shops and factories, farm foreclosures, bread lines, soup kitchens, and financial chicanery unveiled; FDR's New Deal upended traditional government to save a country afflicted with 30% unemployment. Describing in depth such salient events as the 1930 stock market crash, Parrish maintains an authoritative and epic overview. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Parrish (history, Univ. of California-San Diego) persuasively argues that the events from 1921 to 1941 have shaped the tone and temperament of modern America. Most dimensions of contemporary life, he claims, can find their antecedents in the events of these two decades. Through a series of brief biographical sketches, he traces the impact of the prosperity of the 1920s and the Depression of the 1930s on the people. He also gives a clear and unbiased presentation of the strengths and failures of the New Deal. However, his treatment of foreign policy during the 1930s is shallow. Still, this book has excellent photographs and also an extensive bibliography of secondary sources for further reading. General readers as well as scholars will find Parrish's unique study of this fascinating and frightening period useful.-- Richard Hedlund, Ashland Community Coll., Ky.
A broad, highly readable history of the US during a period which witnessed both unprecedented economic prosperity and the worst depression ever to afflict the nation. Parrish concludes with a chapter-length bibliography that combines suggestions for further reading with notes on sources. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)