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Muse's Books

Book 50: Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties by Lucy Moore.

Book 50: Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties .
Author: Lucy Moore, 2008.
Genre: Non-fiction. Social History. 1920s USA.
Other Details: Hardback. 389 pages.

I was a little disappointed to find that this book was only dealing with the Roaring Twenties in the USA and did feel that the publishers could have easily qualified this in the subtitle.

Its format is episodic as Moore dedicates each chapter to a person, event or movement to illustrate aspects of the decade. It opens with Prohibition, which came into effect in January 1920, and ends with the Wall Street Crash of October 1929. Along the way there are potted biographies of famous figures such as Al Capone, Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. I found these of less interest than the material on Prohibition, the Harlem Renaissance, issues of censorship in film, corruption in government, the rise of the anarchists, the revival of the Klu Klux Klan, the founding of The New Yorker magazine and the Scopes trial.

There is not a great deal of critical analysis of the period aside from Moore pointing out that the excesses of certain aspects of society triggered a backlash. Also, that the innovations in terms of industry and mass production led to an increasing use of advertising to encourage consumerism.

In general, I prefer my histories to have a more academic basis than this work yet I found this book enjoyable on its own terms as a broad overview of the decade in the USA.
Tags: cultural studies, history, non-fiction

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