Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920's / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 94%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (21) from $1.99   
  • New (4) from $17.49   
  • Used (17) from $1.99   

Overview

Prohibition. Al Capone. The President Harding scandals. The revolution of manners and morals, Black Teusday. 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.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Chicago Daily Tribune
A perfectly grand piece of historical record and synthetic journalism.
Jonathan Yardley
Unlike that other famous and mythologized American decade of the 20th century, the '60s, much of which actually took place in the '70s, the '20s really were a self-contained decade. Yes, they began with the end of World War I in 1918 and the beginning of Prohibition in 1919, but these were preludes, just as the slide into nationwide Depression in 1930-31 was an afterword. Allen had the prescience to understand this immediately, and the skill to synthesize an immense amount of discrete material, to interpret it with intelligence and without sentimentality, and to write about it with grace, fluidity and wit.
—The Washington Post
John Chamberlain
A style that is verve itself….Besides telling the story of the bull market in fine perspective, Mr. Allen presents the first coherent account that we have seen of the oil scandals that will eventually make the Harding regime match that of President Grant's and the crédit mobilier story in the history books of the future.
New York Times
Fanny Butcher
A perfectly grand piece of historical record and synthetic journalism.
Chicago Daily Tribune
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471189527
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 9/8/1997
  • Series: Wiley Investment Classics Series , #12
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,307,681
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Frederick Lewis Allen was born in Boston in 1890 and graduated from Harvard in 1912. He served on the editorial staffs of the Atlantic Monthly and Century magazines and was editor in chief of Harper's magazine from 1941 until his death in 1954

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



Prelude: May, 1919



If time were suddenly to turn back to the earliest days of the Post-war Decade, and you were to look about you, what would seem strange to you? Since 1919 the circumstances of American life have been transformed--yes, but exactly how?

Let us refresh our memories by following a moderately well-to-do young couple of Cleveland or Boston or Seattle or Baltimore--it hardly matters which--through the routine of an ordinary day in May, 1919. (I select that particular date, six months after the Armistice of 1918, because by then the United States had largely succeeded in turning from the ways of war to those of peace, yet the profound alterations wrought by the Post-war Decade had hardly begun to take place.) There is no better way of suggesting what the passage of a few years has done to change you and me and the environment in which we live.

From the appearance of Mr. Smith as he comes to the breakfast table on this May morning in 1919, you would hardly know that you are not in the nineteen-thirties (though you might, perhaps, be struck by the narrowness of his trousers). The movement of men's fashions is glacial. It is different, however, with Mrs. Smith.She comes to breakfast in a suit, the skirt of which--rather tight at the ankles--hangs just six inches from the ground. She has read in Vogue the alarming news that skirts may become even shorter, and that "not since the days of the Bourbons has the woman of fashion been visible so far above the ankle"; but six inches is still the orthodox clearance. She wears low shoes now, for spring has come; but all last winter she protected her ankleseither with spats or with high laced "walking-boots," or with high patent-leather shoes with contrasting buckskin tops. Her stockings are black (or tan, perhaps, if she wears tan shoes); the idea of flesh-colored stockings would appall her. A few minutes ago Mrs. Smith was surrounding herself with an "envelope chemise" and a petticoat; and from the thick ruffles on her undergarments it was apparent that she was not disposed to make herself more boyish in form than ample nature intended.

Mrs. Smith may use powder, but she probably draws the line at paint. Although the use of cosmetics is no longer, in 1919, considered prima facie evidence of a scarlet career, and sophisticated young girls have already begun to apply them with some bravado, most well brought-up women still frown upon rouge. The beauty-parlor industry is in its infancy; there are a dozen hair-dressing parlors for every beauty parlor, and Mrs. Smith has never heard of such dark arts as that of face-lifting. When she puts on her hat to go shopping she will add a veil pinned neatly together behind her head. In the shops she will perhaps buy a bathing-suit for use in the summer; it will consist of an outer tunic of silk or cretonne over a tight knitted undergarment--worn, of course, with long stockings.

Her hair is long, and the idea of a woman ever frequenting a barber shop would never occur to her. If you have forgotten what the general public thought of short hair in those days, listen to the remark of the manager of the Palm Garden in New York when reporters asked him, one night in November, 1918, how he happened to rent his hall for a pro-Bolshevist meeting which had led to a riot. Explaining that a well-dressed woman had come in a fine automobile to make arrangements for the use of the auditorium, he added, "Had we noticed then, as we do now, that she had short hair, we would have refused to rent the hall." In Mrs. Smith's mind, as in that of the manager of the Palm Garden, short-haired women, like long-haired men, are associated with radicalism, if not with free love.

The breakfast to which Mr. and Mrs. Smith sit down may have been arranged with a view to the provision of a sufficient number of calories--they need only to go to Childs' to learn about calories--but in all probability neither of them has ever heard of a vitamin.

As Mr. Smith eats, he opens the morning paper. It is almost certainly not a tabloid, no matter how rudimentary Mr. Smith's journalistic tastes may be: for although Mr. Hearst has already experimented with small-sized picture papers, the first conspicuously successful tabloid is yet to be born. Not until June 26, 1919, will the New York Daily News reach the newsstands, beginning a career that will bring its daily circulation in one year to nearly a quarter of a million, in five years to over four-fifths of a million, and in ten years to the amazing total of over one million three hundred thousand.

Strung across the front page of Mr. Smith's paper are headlines telling of the progress of the American Navy seaplane, the NC-4, on its flight across the Atlantic via the Azores. That flight is the most sensational news story of May, 1919. (Alcock and Brown have not yet crossed the ocean in a single hop; they will do it a few weeks hence, eight long years ahead of Lindbergh.) But there is other news, too: of the Peace Conference at Paris, where the Treaty is now in its later stages of preparation; of the successful oversubscription of the Victory Loan ("Sure, we'll finish the job!" the campaign posters have been shouting); of the arrival of another transport with soldiers from overseas; of the threat of a new strike; of a speech by Mayor Ole Hanson of Seattle denouncing that scourge of the times, the I.W.W.; of the prospects for the passage of the Suffrage Amendment, which it is predicted will enable women. . .

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Prelude: May, 1919.

Back to Normalcy.

The Big Red Scare.

America Convalescent.

The Revolution in Manners and Morals.

Harding and the Scandals.

Coolidge Prosperity.

The Ballyhoo Years.

The Revolt of the Highbrows.

Alcohol and Al Capone.

Home, Sweet Florida.

The Big Bull Market.

Crash!

Aftermath: 1930-31.

Appendix.

Index.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 10 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(4)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)