Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920's

Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920's

“A style that is verve itself.” — New York Times“A perfectly grand piece of historical record and synthetic journalism.” — Chicago Daily TribuneFrom Frederick Lewis Allen, former editor-in-chief of Harper’s magazine, comes a classic history of 1920s America, from the end of World War I to the stock market crash and the beginning of The Great Depression. Originally publishe...

DownloadRead Online
Title:Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920's
Author:Frederick Lewis Allen
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920's Reviews

  • Robert

    Noticed that one of my goodreads friends had read this, and it triggered me to add it. I read it years ago, but it is easily one of the best compact histories of the 1920s. The only thing I can compare it to is the multi-volume Mark Sullivan series "Our Times" (which dealt with several decades, but Allen is a more engaging writer. It is interesting to see the perspective on the 1920s from 1931. Many things that seem iconic about the decade are ignored or glossed over in this book, but it gives

    Noticed that one of my goodreads friends had read this, and it triggered me to add it. I read it years ago, but it is easily one of the best compact histories of the 1920s. The only thing I can compare it to is the multi-volume Mark Sullivan series "Our Times" (which dealt with several decades, but Allen is a more engaging writer. It is interesting to see the perspective on the 1920s from 1931. Many things that seem iconic about the decade are ignored or glossed over in this book, but it gives a rather immediate sense of the everyday concerns and social attitudes of the time. "Only Yesterday" was turned into a movie by Universal in 1933, though the film tosses out any pretense of being a history of the 1920s; rather the filmmakers just used the title and adapted the story of what was later remade as "Letter From an Unknown Woman." A great movie, nonetheless. Although not quite as good as "Only Yesterday," Allen's study of the 1930s, called "Since Yesterday," is also worth reading.

  • Tripp

    I have a bias against older nonfiction books as I don't think they age well. The evidence gets old, the arguments get settled or the style becomes out-dated and the read just isn't the same. Well, Frederick Allen Lewis sure showed me up. He wrote Only Yesterday in 1931 and it read like it was written last year.

    Lewis was an editor at the Atlantic and I wonder if his style has influenced later writers there. He is crisp, funny and has a strong point of view throughout. I loved his description of

    I have a bias against older nonfiction books as I don't think they age well. The evidence gets old, the arguments get settled or the style becomes out-dated and the read just isn't the same. Well, Frederick Allen Lewis sure showed me up. He wrote Only Yesterday in 1931 and it read like it was written last year.

    Lewis was an editor at the Atlantic and I wonder if his style has influenced later writers there. He is crisp, funny and has a strong point of view throughout. I loved his description of the motivations of Klan members:

    "...but it white robe and hood, its flaming cross, its secrecy, and the preposterous vocabulary of it ritual could be made the vehicle for all that infantile love of hocus-pocus and mummery, that lust for secret adventure, which survives in the adult whose lot is cast in drab places. Here was a chance to dress up the village bigot and let him be a Knight of the Invisible Empire."

    It doesn't hurt that the subjects feel particularly relevant today. Lewis covers racism, populism, and the infatuation with celebrity, sports, and trifling events, at the expense of vital issues. He describes the madness of the stock bubble and the shouting down of anyone who call into question the riches to be made. He also looks at the cult of business (the business of America is business, and all that) and at the how religion and business began to use each other's language. He describes a very popular book called the Man Nobody Knows which argued that Jesus was the founder of modern business thanks to his executive experience and his skills at advertising.

    Reading this book, I was both happy and sad to see that we as a society have many of the same problems. On the downside, there are many problems that we have failed to conquer for so long. On the plus side, our time is not a uniquely debased one.

  • Lance Carney

    There’s politics, political scandals, the Big Red Scare, laxity of morals among the young and technology that altered the daily habits of Americans. Minus flappers, Prohibition and the market crash of the Great Depression (we hope), this could describe today’s America. But this is the 1920s of Warren Gamaliel Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. Young people were not staring at candlestick phones, wall phones or into phone booths, but were listening with fascination to the new technology

    There’s politics, political scandals, the Big Red Scare, laxity of morals among the young and technology that altered the daily habits of Americans. Minus flappers, Prohibition and the market crash of the Great Depression (we hope), this could describe today’s America. But this is the 1920s of Warren Gamaliel Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. Young people were not staring at candlestick phones, wall phones or into phone booths, but were listening with fascination to the new technology of radio.

    Only Yesterday is a wonderful book about the fashion, fads, music, sports of the 1920s, first published in 1931. I was looking for a book to get the feel and mindset of people living in the Roaring Twenties that didn’t read like a textbook and this book was more than I could have hoped for. Only Yesterday is the bee’s knees and highly recommended.

  • Sarah

    What makes this history of the 1920's so fascinating is that it was published in 1931. This is no cold and bloodless text, no sentimental blue fog draped over the past. It feels immediate. It's very well written. And, yes, there are parallels. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear the author was intentionally alluding to current events. At times, it reads almost like a joke: "...[the] song that gave the Post-war Decade one of its most persistent and wearisome phrases, 'I'll Say She Does.'"

    Or a

    What makes this history of the 1920's so fascinating is that it was published in 1931. This is no cold and bloodless text, no sentimental blue fog draped over the past. It feels immediate. It's very well written. And, yes, there are parallels. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear the author was intentionally alluding to current events. At times, it reads almost like a joke: "...[the] song that gave the Post-war Decade one of its most persistent and wearisome phrases, 'I'll Say She Does.'"

    Or a warning: "It was an era of lawless and disorderly defense of law and order, of unconstitutional defense of the Constitution, of suspicion and civil conflict..."

    I had wanted to escape into the past and discovered that we never learn anything.

    Everyone should read this.

  • Evan

    This classic of popular history is the best first place to go to wade into the decade of the 1920s. Breezily written and spiced with on-the-ground anecdotes that lend depth to the larger events and trends. I read this many years ago, but I'll never forget the story about the company sales dinner in which the salesmen were humiliated by exponentially decreased meal portions based on their sales performance. The sales winner who best exceeded his quota had a grand roast beef feast with all the fix

    This classic of popular history is the best first place to go to wade into the decade of the 1920s. Breezily written and spiced with on-the-ground anecdotes that lend depth to the larger events and trends. I read this many years ago, but I'll never forget the story about the company sales dinner in which the salesmen were humiliated by exponentially decreased meal portions based on their sales performance. The sales winner who best exceeded his quota had a grand roast beef feast with all the fixins and the loser was served something like a single pea with a sprig of parsley. That story somehow gets at the heart of darkness of the cutthroat side of the modern American Dream; a Republican wet dream of social Darwinism gone amok. One of the most memorably interesting things about the book is its wistful and distanced perspective, because even though this was published in 1931, it already regarded the 1920s as ancient history.

    (KevinR@Ky)

  • Ron Davidson

    A very thorough review of the very turbulent decade of the 1920s. As James Howard Kunstler said in a recent podcast (probably quoting somebody else), "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes." We find a lot of "rhyming' with recent years in the story of the 1920s: starting the decade with a blind faith in the power of capital, and attacking those who question the irrational exuberance of the dedication to material gain; the rise of sports and entertainment as dominant forces in American cul

    A very thorough review of the very turbulent decade of the 1920s. As James Howard Kunstler said in a recent podcast (probably quoting somebody else), "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes." We find a lot of "rhyming' with recent years in the story of the 1920s: starting the decade with a blind faith in the power of capital, and attacking those who question the irrational exuberance of the dedication to material gain; the rise of sports and entertainment as dominant forces in American culture; the failure of Prohibition, and the rise of organized crime as a result; and the naivete of those who expected "prosperity" to continue forever. (Republicans never change, do they?) Many more comparisons can be found in the text.

    Overall a very interesting observation of the USA of the time, from politics to culture, and everyday life. I'll be reading (or listening to) the sequel ("Since Yesterday") sometime soon.

  • Jill Hutchinson

    This is a very interesting little book which touches on the memorable (and not so memorable) events of the Roaring 20's. The author covers most of the things that history lovers already know but adds his own thoughts which makes old material new again. Since it was written in the 1930's, there are some events that have been interpreted a little differently in the present day. An example is the positive light thrown on the Coolidge presidency and the blaming of the great depression solely on Pres

    This is a very interesting little book which touches on the memorable (and not so memorable) events of the Roaring 20's. The author covers most of the things that history lovers already know but adds his own thoughts which makes old material new again. Since it was written in the 1930's, there are some events that have been interpreted a little differently in the present day. An example is the positive light thrown on the Coolidge presidency and the blaming of the great depression solely on President Hoover. Time has shown that this is not exactly the way it was but that just makes the information more interesting. His analysis of the stock market crash is very well done and understandable even to the reader who knows little about how that system works. Enjoyable and recommended.

  • Tom Schulte

    Very well narrated by Grover Gardner, this was an enjoyable re-read of a history classic. Allen really brings the '20s into an exciting light. It seems like wedged between WW I and The Depression was a time of exuberance and exciting changes during a period of enlarging freedom (Women Granted the Right to Vote in U.S.) and improved quality of life (radio frenzy). This all jibes peculiarly with sociological pathology (crimes and trials "of the century" like Leopold and Loeb Murder a Neighbor Out

    Very well narrated by Grover Gardner, this was an enjoyable re-read of a history classic. Allen really brings the '20s into an exciting light. It seems like wedged between WW I and The Depression was a time of exuberance and exciting changes during a period of enlarging freedom (Women Granted the Right to Vote in U.S.) and improved quality of life (radio frenzy). This all jibes peculiarly with sociological pathology (crimes and trials "of the century" like Leopold and Loeb Murder a Neighbor Out of Boredom; "Fatty" Arbuckle Scandal) and loosening of sexual mores in flapper lifestyle and shortening skirts much documented by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The intensely interesting decade gave birth to fads and crazes: mah jongg, hobby radio, crossword puzzles, etc. That wireless invention was bringing in the world's exciting changes and discoveries: Tomb of King Tut, Not all knowledge was embraced and the radio made the nation ringside to The Scopes (Monkey) Trial and the imperiled

  • Autumn Kovach

    This book was SO interesting. I feel like I have a more well rounded view of New York (and America) in the 1920s. All I was really in love with was the flapper dresses and speakeasies. But with this book, the author explains how the change of technology (the radio), culture, the stock market, agriculture, magazines all affected each other. The contrast of city vs. country. Why people moved where. I wish I had taken better notes because there was so much to learn. He also wrote a book about the 3

    This book was SO interesting. I feel like I have a more well rounded view of New York (and America) in the 1920s. All I was really in love with was the flapper dresses and speakeasies. But with this book, the author explains how the change of technology (the radio), culture, the stock market, agriculture, magazines all affected each other. The contrast of city vs. country. Why people moved where. I wish I had taken better notes because there was so much to learn. He also wrote a book about the 30s -- only a few years after both decades wrapped up so it feels very current. Many issues they faced as a society are not unlike those of today which brings a unique sort of comfort as well.

  • Barbara

    We read this as a text for a wonderful course I am taking about the "Roaring Twenties". Allen has written an entertaining and full-scale history of this period. It was a perfect complement for an excellent subject.

Best Books Online is in no way intended to support illegal activity. Use it at your risk. We uses Search API to find books/manuals but doesn´t host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners. Please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them


©2019 Best Books Online - All rights reserved.