Only Yesterday Essay

1165 words - 5 pages

The "Roaring Twenties" as they're called, was the period of ten years in the Untied States, which saw the biggest change in society, the boom in the economy, and later the downfall of the nation. This time in America was a time of economic prosperity for the most part; a great social revolution took place and saw the formation of a modern America.All this is the subject, Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the Nineteen-Twenties, written by Fredrick Lewis Allen. Allen writes a very informative book of what happened throughout this great decade, but from the aspect of an ordinary individual. He writes of the social history of the 1920s, with little to mention of major politics and economics. From presidents to fashion, Allen covers it all. It's an effective look at people in the 1920s, and what life was like. Only Yesterday begins in May 1919, and ends with a brief look at 1930 and 1931.The book begins out with a prologue more or less, in which Allen writes of a fictitious couple, the Smith's, in the year 1919. Allen, through this prelude, tells the reader of the accomplishments up until 1919, and what is to come in the coming decade. This 14-page introduction lets reader get an idea of what is to come, within the book. It begins with a look at the wartime economy and slow down from it. The period of the so-called "Red Scare" is written in detail in this book. Allen writes of the terror during this time, from everything like Attorney-General Mitchell Palmer's raids on radicals, labor strikes and anarchism, and the intolerance of the early 1920s. The Ku Klux Klan also played a major part in this period. The early 1920s was a great time of mass hysteria, and intolerance for anything "un-American". In one such story Allen writes about, how a black boy is stoned to death in a lake by whites on the shore, in the summer of 1919.Even though this existed, the 1920s brought great change. The first radio broadcast was in November 2, 1920. Allen talks about the social times changing during this time as well. Everything from sports to makeup was becoming an obsession, like baseball and tennis for the guys, and bathing suits and makeup for the women. During this time new games such as Mah Jong from China and crossword puzzles, and new songs, all which captured the American spirit, as well as many other things, which thrilled Americans. As Allen writes, "A few weeks later there was new national thrill as the news of the finding of the tomb of King Tut-Ankh-Amen, cabled all the way from Egypt, overshadowed the news of Radical trials and the K.K.K." This new time was the social revolution for the people. Ladies began smoking and drinking in public, skirts became shorter, the use of makeup, and the quest for slenderness began. The twenties was also a time of relaxed spirituality. Many looked at society as more important than religion. Celebrities replaced religion in some cases. The younger gernartion searched for things such as passion and thrills, and were...

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