Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties

Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties

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by Lucy Moore
     
 

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An exhilarating portrait of the era of jazz, glamour, and gangsters from a bright young star of mainstream history writing.

The glitter of 1920s America was seductive, from jazz, flappers, and wild all- night parties to the birth of Hollywood and a glamorous gangster-led crime scene flourishing under Prohibition. But the period was also punctuated by

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Overview

An exhilarating portrait of the era of jazz, glamour, and gangsters from a bright young star of mainstream history writing.

The glitter of 1920s America was seductive, from jazz, flappers, and wild all- night parties to the birth of Hollywood and a glamorous gangster-led crime scene flourishing under Prohibition. But the period was also punctuated by momentous events-the political show trials of Sacco and Vanzetti, the huge Ku Klux Klan march down Washington DC's Pennsylvania Avenue-and it produced a dizzying array of writers, musicians, and film stars, from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Bessie Smith and Charlie Chaplin.

In Anything Goes, Lucy Moore interweaves the stories of the compelling people and events that characterized the decade to produce a gripping portrait of the Jazz Age. She reveals that the Roaring Twenties were more than just "the years between wars." It was an epoch of passion and change-an age, she observes, not unlike our own.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Quickstepping over the surface of the 1920s, a high-octane and high-speed decade that F. Scott Fitzgerald christened the Jazz Age, U.K. writer Moore (Maharinis) emphasizes that the 1920s was a time a lot like our recent past. Moore approaches her material thematically more than chronologically, centering on the usual 1920s icons, from Al Capone to flappers, which permits her to examine how revolutionary a period it was, despite the narrower materialistic pursuits. Anthropologists like Margaret Mead redefined traditional roles as mere social constructs. It was the age of cigarettes, drugs, and newly liberated flappers; of Carl Van Vechten and Langston Hughes combating rampant racism; of liberated Hollywood women Mary Pickford and Gloria Swanson as well as Charlie Chaplin and the even-more scandalous “Fatty” Arbuckle; of xenophobia cheek by jowl with the urbanity of the New Yorker and the Algonquin Round Table. It was the age of Lindbergh and flight and of the less heroic automobile. This illicit-booze-fueled decade of conspicuous consumption came down with a crash in 1929, and Fitzgerald wrote elegiacally, “we will never feel quite so intensely about our surroundings any more.” This lightweight survey is best suited for readers not deeply familiar with this much revisited decade. (Mar. 11)
Library Journal
Does Moore (Liberty: The Lives and Times of Six Women in Revolutionary France) want to be the next Christopher Hibbert? Hibbert, who died in 2008, wrote seemingly effortless studies of all manner of people, places, and eras—all elegantly accessible, meticulously researched books. Readers used to his high standards for popular history—and anyone who knows anything about the 1920s—will be disappointed by Moore's book. It amounts to a portrait of the era, chiefly in America, as it could have been written decades ago: there's F. Scott Fitzgerald and the ex-pat Murphys, Al Capone, the Algonquin Roundtable, Sacco and Vanzetti, a one-dimensional Warren Harding, the Scopes trial, and a Hollywood rife with scandal and apparently oblivious to any struggle over the use of sound in film. You'll hope in vain for Moore to demonstrate some special expertise, but 1920s MGM icon John Gilbert's one unindexed presence as "Jack Gilbert" with no apparent awareness by Moore of whom she's speaking is emblematic of her shallow knowledge. Any of these topics, plus the many that Moore excludes, get better treatment elsewhere. VERDICT Perhaps middle or high school students or general readers first embarking on the era will appreciate this. Others should pass.—Margaret Heilbrun, Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
Moore (Liberty: The Lives and Times of Six Women in Revolutionary France, 2007, etc.) delivers a fast-paced portrait of the 20th-century's fizziest decade, replete with gangsters, flappers, speakeasies and jazz. The author's breezy style synchs nicely with her subject matter, and her focus on the personalities behind the history keeps the narrative engaging. Rather than presenting her material as an extended survey of the period, Moore focuses on a single Jazz Age trope per chapter, resulting in easily digestible takes on prohibition and the high-spirited criminal culture it engendered; the explosion in popularity of jazz music; the evolution of the flapper; the emergence of Hollywood as creator of a national cultural consciousness; the financial scandals of the Harding presidency; the Sacco/Vanzetti and Scopes trials; the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan; the Algonquin round table and the founding of the New Yorker; Charles Lindbergh's historic trans-Atlantic flight; the spectacular boxing career of Jack Dempsey; and the financial devastation of the Wall Street crash that ended the party and ushered in the Great Depression. The author writes more like a novelist than a historian, richly delineating her characters and their milieu. Harding is revealed as a hapless, good-time Charlie hopelessly out of his element as president; Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, beautiful and damned, drink their way across Europe; blues legend Bessie Smith lives large and brooks no fools; and communist anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti emerge as principled, quietly noble figures, unrepentant in the face of a likely gross miscarriage of justice. Moore draws some fairly obvious parallels between the '20s and ourcontemporary moment-the Wall Street crash, Bush as Harding redux, the gap between emerging technologies and social structures, the cult of celebrity-but the point isn't labored and the fizzing pace never flags. Snappy, vivid account of America's most glittering decade.
From the Publisher
"An interesting and wide ranging look at a tumultuous period."
-Booklist

"A varied and dazzling portrait gallery of crooks and film stars, boxers and presidents, each brilliantly delineated and coloured in by a historian with a novelist's relish for human foibles."
-The Sunday Times (London)

"Mesmerising... Like the champagne-immersed age she portrays, Moore's book effervesces with the detail of this fascinating story."- Juliet Nicholson, Evening Standard

"What a decade it was! What goings-on more violent, subversive and exotic than any of the parties, japes or shenanigans of our own Bright Young Things... Moore has knitted the various diverse strands together impressively with an overview of the large cast of characters, events, attitudes, industries and statistics."
-Anne de Courcy, Daily Mail

"Full of anecdote, detail and colour... Fluid and elegant."
-Marianne Brace, Independent

"Out-of-control consumer spending? Unregulated banking system? Feverish need to drink and drug the jumpy self into oblivion? Check, check, check. We have been here before, and in a much worse state too, at the end of the 'roaring' 1920s. If this book has a moral it is that, in the words of that balladeer of bad times Al Jolson, 'you ain't seen nothing yet.'"
-Kathryn Hughes, Guardian

"The great strength of this delightful canter through the history of America in the 1920s [is] the author's zestful way with a story... All the spirit of a Prohibition party."
-Sunday Times Books of the Year

"The energy and dynamism that came to embody much of the 'Roaring Twenties' are palpable in Lucy Moore's portrait of American society throughout the decade ... Moore propels the reader at speed through the key social, cultural, political and economic events of the period. Beginning with notorious activities of Wall Street financiers, the result is a book that presents a powerful impression of both the glamorous and the dirty aspects of this era. This is clearly a book of timely relevance."
-Christopher Godden, Times Literary Supplement

"A gorgeous historical indulgence."
-InStyle

"Lucy Moore's enlightening, well-researched biography of the 1920s will appeal to scholars as well as a general audience. Filled with attention-grabbing details that many historians neglect and a wide range of subjects-from celebrities like Charlie Chaplin or Bessie Smith to political corruption and social upheaval-Anything Goes will not disappoint readers, no matter their educational background...Anyone interested in discovering Al Capone, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Charles Lindbergh in the pages of the same book will find this broad-based work a worthwhile pursuit."
-ForeWord

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590204511
Publisher:
The Overlook Press
Publication date:
03/01/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
371,769
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

"An interesting and wide ranging look at a tumultuous period."
-Booklist

"A varied and dazzling portrait gallery of crooks and film stars, boxers and presidents, each brilliantly delineated and coloured in by a historian with a novelist's relish for human foibles."
-The Sunday Times (London)

"Mesmerising... Like the champagne-immersed age she portrays, Moore's book effervesces with the detail of this fascinating story."- Juliet Nicholson, Evening Standard

"What a decade it was! What goings-on more violent, subversive and exotic than any of the parties, japes or shenanigans of our own Bright Young Things... Moore has knitted the various diverse strands together impressively with an overview of the large cast of characters, events, attitudes, industries and statistics."
-Anne de Courcy, Daily Mail

"Full of anecdote, detail and colour... Fluid and elegant."
-Marianne Brace, Independent

"Out-of-control consumer spending? Unregulated banking system? Feverish need to drink and drug the jumpy self into oblivion? Check, check, check. We have been here before, and in a much worse state too, at the end of the 'roaring' 1920s. If this book has a moral it is that, in the words of that balladeer of bad times Al Jolson, 'you ain't seen nothing yet.'"
-Kathryn Hughes, Guardian

"The great strength of this delightful canter through the history of America in the 1920s [is] the author's zestful way with a story... All the spirit of a Prohibition party."
-Sunday Times Books of the Year

"The energy and dynamism that came to embody much of the 'Roaring Twenties' are palpable in Lucy Moore's portrait of American society throughout the decade ... Moore propels the reader at speed through the key social, cultural, political and economic events of the period. Beginning with notorious activities of Wall Street financiers, the result is a book that presents a powerful impression of both the glamorous and the dirty aspects of this era. This is clearly a book of timely relevance."
-Christopher Godden, Times Literary Supplement

"A gorgeous historical indulgence."
-InStyle

"Lucy Moore's enlightening, well-researched biography of the 1920s will appeal to scholars as well as a general audience. Filled with attention-grabbing details that many historians neglect and a wide range of subjects-from celebrities like Charlie Chaplin or Bessie Smith to political corruption and social upheaval-Anything Goes will not disappoint readers, no matter their educational background...Anyone interested in discovering Al Capone, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Charles Lindbergh in the pages of the same book will find this broad-based work a worthwhile pursuit."
-ForeWord

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Meet the Author

LUCY MOORE was born in 1970 and educated in Britain and the U.S. before studying history at Edinburgh. Voted one of the "top twenty young writers in Britain" by the Independent on Sunday, her books include the bestselling Maharanis and the acclaimed Liberty

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Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
reader75LL More than 1 year ago
Good history read of a somewhat rather turbulent time for the US. It appears that all societies just blossomed out and people lived there fullest each day. As history has proven prohibition was not the way to go, scandals in the government plus the meltdown of the stock market. Very interesting read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
?????
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If this gets 20 posts by july 27 you will win the scavenger hunt