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Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties

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This is an exhilarating portrait of the era of invention, glamour and excess from one of the brightest young stars of mainstream history writing. Bracketed by the catastrophes of the Great War and the Wall Street Crash, the 1920s was a time of fear and hedonism. The decade glittered with seduction: jazz, flappers, wild all-night parties, the birth of Hollywood, and a glamo This is an exhilarating portrait of the era of invention, glamour and excess from one of the brightest young stars of mainstream history writing. Bracketed by the catastrophes of the Great War and the Wall Street Crash, the 1920s was a time of fear and hedonism. The decade glittered with seduction: jazz, flappers, wild all-night parties, the birth of Hollywood, and a glamorous gangster-led crime scene forced to flourish under prohibition. It was punctuated by terrifying events—the political show trials of Sacco and Vanzetti; the huge march down Washington DC's Pennsylvania Avenue by the Ku Klux Klan—and produced a glittering array of artists, musicians and film stars, from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Bessie Smith to Charlie Chaplin. Here, Lucy Moore interweaves the most compelling stories of the people and events that characterized the decade to produce a gripping account of an often-overlooked period. In doing so, she demonstrates that the jazz age was far more than just 'between wars'; it was an epoch of passion and change—an age, she observes, that was not unlike our own. The world she evokes is one of effortless allure and terrifying drama: a world that was desperate to escape itself.


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This is an exhilarating portrait of the era of invention, glamour and excess from one of the brightest young stars of mainstream history writing. Bracketed by the catastrophes of the Great War and the Wall Street Crash, the 1920s was a time of fear and hedonism. The decade glittered with seduction: jazz, flappers, wild all-night parties, the birth of Hollywood, and a glamo This is an exhilarating portrait of the era of invention, glamour and excess from one of the brightest young stars of mainstream history writing. Bracketed by the catastrophes of the Great War and the Wall Street Crash, the 1920s was a time of fear and hedonism. The decade glittered with seduction: jazz, flappers, wild all-night parties, the birth of Hollywood, and a glamorous gangster-led crime scene forced to flourish under prohibition. It was punctuated by terrifying events—the political show trials of Sacco and Vanzetti; the huge march down Washington DC's Pennsylvania Avenue by the Ku Klux Klan—and produced a glittering array of artists, musicians and film stars, from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Bessie Smith to Charlie Chaplin. Here, Lucy Moore interweaves the most compelling stories of the people and events that characterized the decade to produce a gripping account of an often-overlooked period. In doing so, she demonstrates that the jazz age was far more than just 'between wars'; it was an epoch of passion and change—an age, she observes, that was not unlike our own. The world she evokes is one of effortless allure and terrifying drama: a world that was desperate to escape itself.

58 review for Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties

  1. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    I thought this would be more of a social history of everyday people, but basically it's a collection of short overviews of the things in the 1920s that everyone has already heard of anyway--Al Capone, Henry Ford, the movie industry, etc. At least I thought it would be a fun refresher course. Then things started to be noticeably different from other, well-researched books I'd read. First it was a bit about Charlie Chaplin that sounded different than I remembered from the biography I read, but I j I thought this would be more of a social history of everyday people, but basically it's a collection of short overviews of the things in the 1920s that everyone has already heard of anyway--Al Capone, Henry Ford, the movie industry, etc. At least I thought it would be a fun refresher course. Then things started to be noticeably different from other, well-researched books I'd read. First it was a bit about Charlie Chaplin that sounded different than I remembered from the biography I read, but I just assumed that I remembered that wrong. Then the author went on to state that "trade [which should be labor if one is writing about the US] unions had all but disappeared" in the 1920s. I knew that sounded wrong--especially after reading a great book about the Pullman Porters and the establishment of the first black labor union--the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters--in 1925. That sounds pretty visible to me. Then the author went on to talk about how much money everyone suddenly had. Sort of true and sort of not. Everyone had CREDIT and people were dabbling in the stock market on margin, but real wages had not risen as fast as profits and the prosperity was not universal. Trusts and monopolies operated to fix wages, and 40% of Americans were living below poverty line. Black farm workers lost jobs throughout the 1920s. Overall GDP rose, but--as has been so repeatedly paralleled with the 2008 crash--it was the top earnings that skyrocketed, not the overall earnings. Not even being halfway through the book, I completely lost interest by the time I was 2 pages into her chapter on American business. She misses connections--like the farm slump being tied to farmers maintaining the production of the war years but without the war-time demand (with their plowing more and more prairie under for farming which would result in the Dust Bowl) rather than storage, and makes some leaps and huge generalizations that don't even make sense. I still can't figure out what she's trying to say about Rotary and Kiwanis, which is interesting as I was a Kiwanian for about 15 years. Even the most cursory of internet searches disproves the author's portrayal of Warren G. Harding, or at best makes it "highly suspect." The consensus seems to be that he had 4 affairs during his marriage--hardly the sex maniac that Moore makes him out to be. That disappoints me--I was thinking a lot of high school kids would start taking a MUCH bigger interest in American History than they currently do. For what started out as a promising book, this turned out to be a badly-researched and deeply flawed book that ultimately had no point.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jan C

    It was an enjoyable read. But I have to question my enjoyment since it did sit on my shelf for about 7 years. I was about 1/3 into it and I put it on the shelf, whether on purpose or by accident. Maybe there was just another "shiny" new book that attracted my attention. Fairly informative, kind of gossipy. Touches on most aspects of the '20s - Harlem Renaissance, white people slumming in Harlem (not appreciated by the residents), the revamp of the Ku Klux Klan (Indiana has a lot to answer for), It was an enjoyable read. But I have to question my enjoyment since it did sit on my shelf for about 7 years. I was about 1/3 into it and I put it on the shelf, whether on purpose or by accident. Maybe there was just another "shiny" new book that attracted my attention. Fairly informative, kind of gossipy. Touches on most aspects of the '20s - Harlem Renaissance, white people slumming in Harlem (not appreciated by the residents), the revamp of the Ku Klux Klan (Indiana has a lot to answer for), the Scopes Trial (again, a book that draws heavily on Edward J. Larson's Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion, so again I shall have to delay picking that book a while more), the literary scene - including the Algonquin Round Table. Interesting to find out that President Harding (who had so many things going against him) was in favor of a federal anti-lynching law but was turned by Southern lawmakers. (There were rumors for years that he had African-American blood in him. Don't believe this was ever confirmed yea or nay.) And, of course, the Crash. For those who have any interest in the Roaring Twenties, this may be a good book to start with. Includes a decent Bibliography.

  3. 4 out of 5

    alix

    This book really was "just okay." It wasn't particularly cohesive--basically just a number of biographical essays on famous individuals from the '20s strung together without a coherent theme. It wasn't footnoted or well-researched, either. At one point in the bibliography the author notes that "as far as she knows" there is only one major work on Zelda Fitzgerald--as though she couldn't be bothered to check for sure. For a more well researched, better written, and generally more exciting read on This book really was "just okay." It wasn't particularly cohesive--basically just a number of biographical essays on famous individuals from the '20s strung together without a coherent theme. It wasn't footnoted or well-researched, either. At one point in the bibliography the author notes that "as far as she knows" there is only one major work on Zelda Fitzgerald--as though she couldn't be bothered to check for sure. For a more well researched, better written, and generally more exciting read on the 1920s, I'd opt for Joshua Zeitz's "Flapper." Incidentally, that book also contains a cohesive central argument, which "Anything Goes" is pretty seriously lacking.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    Not the greatest work of history I've ever read. It's entertaining and readable enough, but that's more a result of the subject than the actual content. The Twenties was a decade that is hard to make boring. Moore takes a thematic approach rather than chronological, organising her chapters by topics such as celebrities, movies, sport, architecture, literature, politics. I'm not sure the approach works - it makes it much more a superficial, 'potted' history rather than anything approaching any kin Not the greatest work of history I've ever read. It's entertaining and readable enough, but that's more a result of the subject than the actual content. The Twenties was a decade that is hard to make boring. Moore takes a thematic approach rather than chronological, organising her chapters by topics such as celebrities, movies, sport, architecture, literature, politics. I'm not sure the approach works - it makes it much more a superficial, 'potted' history rather than anything approaching any kind of depth, and there's very little analysis of why the Twenties were the way the way they were, whether it was a reaction to the horrors of WW1 or something else. But as I said, it's not boring. The pages are full of characters like Babe Ruth, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jack Dempsey, Charles Lindbergh, Al Capone: flappers and mobsters and heroes and villains. It's a light fizzy read with little substance to it. Much like the Twenties, I would imagine.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    This is the 1920s in America and I thought the book gave a good overview of the good and bad of the decade. Each chapter deals with a different topic such as: Chicago and its gangsters, music and dance (Charleston and the blues); religion and its impact on law and society; cars and the introduction of the modern factory (and labour laws) and the stock market and great crash to end the decade. Much of this decade with its great changes in society and technology seems familiar even today. The fina This is the 1920s in America and I thought the book gave a good overview of the good and bad of the decade. Each chapter deals with a different topic such as: Chicago and its gangsters, music and dance (Charleston and the blues); religion and its impact on law and society; cars and the introduction of the modern factory (and labour laws) and the stock market and great crash to end the decade. Much of this decade with its great changes in society and technology seems familiar even today. The financial excess and great divide between rich and poor in a society whose rich were decadent and self-destructive and proud of it. This was an era when there was minimal government regulation and intervention in lives of employers and labour laws were virtually non-existant. If you want to see what your life would be like without the improvements unions have bought into our lives in the years since you only have to look at this decade. While unions in many cases (where they became too powerful and rich) eventually caused their own destruction books like these make you realise how people who want to go back to a nirvna of "little government" have already had that and while it was great if you were at the top of the pile for everyone else it was a jungle-like environment. Overall, this was a worthwhile read I thought.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gwynneth Anderson

    A fun, informative read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nicola Pierce

    I can see lots of negative reviews but I wonder if they are down to the fact that the writer isn't actually American. Anyway, I enjoyed it. I love reading about America and I love reading about the 1920s. Plenty of the 'cast', I had read about before - the Fitzgeralds, Chaplin and the Lingberghs etc - but it was my first time to read about the likes of Al Capone and Jack Dempsey. I was surprised not to see screenwriter, director, writer Francis Marion's name in the chapter about her best friend I can see lots of negative reviews but I wonder if they are down to the fact that the writer isn't actually American. Anyway, I enjoyed it. I love reading about America and I love reading about the 1920s. Plenty of the 'cast', I had read about before - the Fitzgeralds, Chaplin and the Lingberghs etc - but it was my first time to read about the likes of Al Capone and Jack Dempsey. I was surprised not to see screenwriter, director, writer Francis Marion's name in the chapter about her best friend Mary Pickford. In an case, this was a very accessible and easy read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Leonie

    Bite size snippets of history, mainly American. Nothing Wikipedia wouldn’t have given. Sigh.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Adam Glantz

    Reading Lucy Moore's book made me realize that a lot of what we associate with America in the 1960s was present in the 1920s. Hedonism, openness to African-American culture, sexual experimentation, the glamour of intoxicants, the cult of celebrity, intellectual ferment, new technologies, political corruption, a sneaking fondness for violence, shell-shocked veterans, the desire to "drop out," and an almost suicidal cult of youth (Think of Roger Daltry singing "I hope I die before I get old" a few Reading Lucy Moore's book made me realize that a lot of what we associate with America in the 1960s was present in the 1920s. Hedonism, openness to African-American culture, sexual experimentation, the glamour of intoxicants, the cult of celebrity, intellectual ferment, new technologies, political corruption, a sneaking fondness for violence, shell-shocked veterans, the desire to "drop out," and an almost suicidal cult of youth (Think of Roger Daltry singing "I hope I die before I get old" a few decades early). Also a feature of both decades: stubborn poverty amidst plenty, and a conservative backlash from old-boy elites and pious country folk alike, often more than a little tinged with racism. But the analogy isn't perfect: Missing from the 1920s were the idealistic political activism of the 1960s and, of course, the Vietnam War. I didn't make the connection before now for two reasons. First, I associate the 1920s with my grandparents, who were very old when I knew them; they and their milieu seemed worlds apart from the 1960s, which was closer to my own time. But more importantly, I suspect that the memory of the lighthearted, high-flying 1920s is obscured by what came next: a global depression and a world war, much grimmer, unhappier times. A word of warning before you begin this book: It's exclusively about the United States, with only a bit about some celebrity English expatriates and some Americans who temporarily sojourned in Europe. That's not a bad thing, particularly since the first half of the twentieth century is arguably when the United States reached a peak of power and influence. But if you want to read about, say, the Bloomsbury Group, the efflorescence of Weimar Germany, the origins of Italian fascism, developments in the newborn Soviet Union, or more than a few details about interwar Paris, you'll have to go elsewhere.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Matthew McDonough

    As others have noted, the book starts off pretty good, but then just drops into almost unreadable, gossipy, poorly-researched rubbish. More often than not, it comes across as a self-published, glorified term paper. Some GLARING issues: teenagers in the 1920s borrowing the family car to visit friends(?); central figures whose names seemingly changed from paragraph to paragraph; and my favorite: constant reference to "Middletown," as if it is a legitimate U.S. city, with no explanation as to the o As others have noted, the book starts off pretty good, but then just drops into almost unreadable, gossipy, poorly-researched rubbish. More often than not, it comes across as a self-published, glorified term paper. Some GLARING issues: teenagers in the 1920s borrowing the family car to visit friends(?); central figures whose names seemingly changed from paragraph to paragraph; and my favorite: constant reference to "Middletown," as if it is a legitimate U.S. city, with no explanation as to the origin of the concept. There are countless books about the 1920s, and an equal number of biographies of the people who lived through the decade. I would recommend reading any number of those for a better, less biased, more educated look into a truly fascinating period in history.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Isabel

    I received this from a friend, as I am interested in that period. Really fascinating accounts of crime in Chicago and good portrayal of Al Capone. My only criticism so far is that it is all set in the US. Still it got me playing some old Bessie Smith songs, which is a very good thing.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Written with all the wit and analytical power of a Wikipedia article.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Goddard

    I was genuinely surprised by some of the “meh” or outright negative reviews of this book, which I thought was fresh and vivid and fun to read. It’s hard to condense a number of dense, complicated topics (e.g. jazz, the Scopes monkey trial, the Sacco Vanzetti case, the rise of skyscrapers) into succinct, readable chapters but this book did it unusually well for me. And I found the writing lively and entertaining. It kept me engaged even with topics that don’t usual interest me. I wonder if some of I was genuinely surprised by some of the “meh” or outright negative reviews of this book, which I thought was fresh and vivid and fun to read. It’s hard to condense a number of dense, complicated topics (e.g. jazz, the Scopes monkey trial, the Sacco Vanzetti case, the rise of skyscrapers) into succinct, readable chapters but this book did it unusually well for me. And I found the writing lively and entertaining. It kept me engaged even with topics that don’t usual interest me. I wonder if some of the negative reviews are because of the broader objective of the book — to provide a broad overview of an entire decade in one book. If you want to go into depth (or have in the past gone into depth) on any of the topics covered, you’re likely to find the content here rather brief. But that’s what an overview book does. If you want to read a rich, fully complex history of the growth of movies in the 1920s, this isn’t your book. But if you want a nicely summarized account of the major issues involved with the growth of the movies in the 1920s — put in the context of other major events occurring in the U.S. at the same time — this is a great pick. I can see this book being a wonderful intro to the decade for college students, or any general reader looking for a broad overview.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alex Smith

    Breezy, entertaining social history of the 1920's in much the same style as David Halberstam's "The Fifties" or Bill Bryson's "One Summer in America" (although shorter and more narrowly focused than either of those books). Lucy Moore writes about fourteen events or trends, with an eye for telling anecdotes (Bessie Smith's insulting the white hostess who attempts to kiss the singer at the end of a party) or memorable detail (Al Capone's predilection for splashy, pastel suits). Moore is not a "big Breezy, entertaining social history of the 1920's in much the same style as David Halberstam's "The Fifties" or Bill Bryson's "One Summer in America" (although shorter and more narrowly focused than either of those books). Lucy Moore writes about fourteen events or trends, with an eye for telling anecdotes (Bessie Smith's insulting the white hostess who attempts to kiss the singer at the end of a party) or memorable detail (Al Capone's predilection for splashy, pastel suits). Moore is not a "big picture" historian; each chapter in her book tends to stand alone rather than following a series of themes through different settings and phenomena. At times Moore notes the influence of earlier eras on the 20's - - her insightful argument that the skyscraper boom of the 20's could take place in America because it was a young country without centuries of architectural history to constrain this dramatic new style - - but in general she pays little attention to the effect that earlier eras had in shaping the 20's (e. g. she pays very little attention to World War I, except for its effect on developing the aviation industry). All in all, an enjoyable, easy read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Therese

    What an excellent and well-written account of everything that happened in the 1920s! I have had this book on my reading list for years and finally got around to reading it not realising it's nonfiction! I had thought it was a novel set in the 20s 🙈. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it's packed with all sorts of facts I knew nothing about! The only reason I can't give it five stars is because there a few places the author went on quite a bit when she really didn't need to or covered topic What an excellent and well-written account of everything that happened in the 1920s! I have had this book on my reading list for years and finally got around to reading it not realising it's nonfiction! I had thought it was a novel set in the 20s 🙈. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it's packed with all sorts of facts I knew nothing about! The only reason I can't give it five stars is because there a few places the author went on quite a bit when she really didn't need to or covered topics I wasn't bothered about. Also, although I am completely fluent in British English, I found it out of place in a book about American history somehow. Other than that, I really enjoyed this book and learned loads about an utterly fascinating era. It sure does explain a lot about how America is what it is today.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn

    An interesting popular history of the decade called "The Roaring Twenties" in the United States. All the "usual suspects" are mentioned: Prohibition; Al Capone and gangsters / racketers / bootleggers, Dance crazes like the Charleston; Short skirts and shingled hair; F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald: the Ivy League writer, the Flapper and the Gin parties; the Stock markets going up, up, up.; the "Monkey Trial" between Fundamentalism and Evolution; the Fatty Arbuckle scandal and all that Hollywood ja An interesting popular history of the decade called "The Roaring Twenties" in the United States. All the "usual suspects" are mentioned: Prohibition; Al Capone and gangsters / racketers / bootleggers, Dance crazes like the Charleston; Short skirts and shingled hair; F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald: the Ivy League writer, the Flapper and the Gin parties; the Stock markets going up, up, up.; the "Monkey Trial" between Fundamentalism and Evolution; the Fatty Arbuckle scandal and all that Hollywood jazz; and, of course, Jazz. It was really one full decade. It's not an in-depth, academic tome; but I'm not fond of academic tomes. They are full of statistics and speeches and pie charts, which are good for scholars but very, very boring for buffs. I think one can get the flavour from books like this one.

  17. 4 out of 5

    R K

    3.75 Very nice book that goes through the ups and downs of the 20's. The pomp. The scandal. The good and the bad. It's all discussed in short chapters that add colour to the image of the 20's. It wasn't as glamorous as it is shown today. It also has great relevance to our modern times. In a sad harrowing way, the 20's kind of show that nothing has changed. There are still issues that we have in today's society that were problems in the 20's. There were some boring parts but it was a great read nonet 3.75 Very nice book that goes through the ups and downs of the 20's. The pomp. The scandal. The good and the bad. It's all discussed in short chapters that add colour to the image of the 20's. It wasn't as glamorous as it is shown today. It also has great relevance to our modern times. In a sad harrowing way, the 20's kind of show that nothing has changed. There are still issues that we have in today's society that were problems in the 20's. There were some boring parts but it was a great read nonetheless.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Susan M

    What better time to learn more about the 1920's than the start of the 2020's! This is an entertaining - easy to read account of the 'roaring' decade. Finally learned the specifics of the Sacco & Vanzetti trial, and the 'long count' controversy in the Dempsey/Tunney fight. Also learned what a force First Lady Florence Harding was. Loved the chapters on the Algonquin Round Table, the Flappers and the Lost Generation. I highly recommend the book if you are a fan of this time period. What better time to learn more about the 1920's than the start of the 2020's! This is an entertaining - easy to read account of the 'roaring' decade. Finally learned the specifics of the Sacco & Vanzetti trial, and the 'long count' controversy in the Dempsey/Tunney fight. Also learned what a force First Lady Florence Harding was. Loved the chapters on the Algonquin Round Table, the Flappers and the Lost Generation. I highly recommend the book if you are a fan of this time period.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ned Jackson

    Excellent portrait of a fascinating decade, beautifully written....... Clever selection of persons and events to highlight, well researched, would ask the author to consider a similar treatment of the Thirties or perhaps the Fifties....

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jodi

    So much of the economic and social climate of the 1920s sounds eerily like today.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Clare

    Good introduction to major themes of the 1920s whilst also homing in on important individuals of the time. An enjoyable read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    "Reformers saw Prohibition as a necessary instrument of social improvement- a way to help the poor and needy help themselves. They associated alcohol with urbanization, with violence, laziness and corruption, and with unwelcome immigrants." (p.24) "Throat burning Yack Yack Bourbon, made in Capone’s Chicago, blended burnt sugar and iodine; Panther whiskey contained a high concentration of fusel oil, which was thought to trigger paranoia, hallucinations, sexual depravity and murderous impulses; Phi "Reformers saw Prohibition as a necessary instrument of social improvement- a way to help the poor and needy help themselves. They associated alcohol with urbanization, with violence, laziness and corruption, and with unwelcome immigrants." (p.24) "Throat burning Yack Yack Bourbon, made in Capone’s Chicago, blended burnt sugar and iodine; Panther whiskey contained a high concentration of fusel oil, which was thought to trigger paranoia, hallucinations, sexual depravity and murderous impulses; Philadelphia’s Soda Pop Moon was blended with “rubbing alcohol,” also used as a disinfectant and in gasoline; Jackass brandy caused internal bleeding. Other poisonous ingredients included soft soap, camphor, embalming fluid and bichloride of mercury, a highly corrosive form of mercury used to treat syphilis and to preserve biological specimens in museums. Most notorious of all was jake, a fluid extract of Jamaican ginger, which caused paralysis and ultimately death." (p.27) "...his volatile personality was described by a psychiatrist as one of “sunny brutality.”" (p.35) "When she was in a room her vitality flowed like a cloud and stuffed the air till the walls bulged…" (p.47) "You hear everything at once and you hear it right. When you get that feeling of power and sureness, you’re in a solid groove." (p.49) "The word “flapper” described a chick desperately flapping her wings as she tried to fly, although she had not yet grown adult feathers; it had come to mean a precocious young woman whose modern appearance, attitudes, values and behaviour utterly mystified her parents’ generation." (p.69) "As the commentator Frederick Allen remembered, Freudianism was simply taken to mean, “If you want to be well and happy, you must obey your libido.”" (p.79) "She had always had a striking and highly unusual visual sense, but when her schizophrenia set in it became even more hallucinatory and intense." (p.83) "…the saddest thing he could imagine is getting used to luxury." (p.103) "…foreign factory workers were often paid as much as a third less than their American-born colleagues, reflecting the popular assumption that, being of different “racial stock,” they were less intelligent and less capable." (p.161) "Intolerance, as the historian Frederick Allen observed ten years later, “became an American virtue.” Any individual or activity that cast into question “America” or “American values” was deemed suspicious." (p.163) "The world, the physical world, that was once all in all to me, has at moments such as these no road through a wood, no stretch of shore, that can bring me comfort. The beauty of these things can no longer at such moments make up to me at all for the ugliness of man, his cruelty, his greed, his lying face." (p.182) "Exile had come to feel like home." (p.219) "Fundamentalists celebrated ignorance, preaching that simple faith was more important than all the learning in the world." (p.253) "Lindbergh described flying by moonlight as times of transcendence. “Its light floods through woods and fields; reflects up from bends of rivers; shines on the silver wings of my biplane, turning them a greenish hue. It makes the earth seem more of a planet; and me a part of the heavens above it, as though I too had the right to an orbit in the sky.”" (p.273)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alison C

    Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties, by Lucy Moore, is just what the subtitle says, although perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a biography of America's 1920s as that's the only country discussed (well, France is mentioned in the chapter entitled "In Exile," but that chapter's all about, yes, Americans in France). Moore covers quite a lot of territory, including the birth of the Jazz Age, Prohibition, the rise of mobsters, women's emancipation, the treatment of Blacks, m Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties, by Lucy Moore, is just what the subtitle says, although perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a biography of America's 1920s as that's the only country discussed (well, France is mentioned in the chapter entitled "In Exile," but that chapter's all about, yes, Americans in France). Moore covers quite a lot of territory, including the birth of the Jazz Age, Prohibition, the rise of mobsters, women's emancipation, the treatment of Blacks, movies, the rise of industry, literature, xenophobia, the resurgence of the KKK (which chapter is especially interesting to readers at the present time, as there are a lot of phrases in there where "KKK said" could be replaced with "The Tea Partier said" and everything else kept the same), youthful cynicism and hedonism, Lindbergh's flight, the Tunney-Dempsey fight and, finally, the Stock Market Crash. Definitely interesting times, and it's good to get some idea of what contemporary people thought of the times they were living through, but I have a major quibble with this book and that is, no notes! Sure, there's a short paragraph of "notes" for each chapter, where Moore lists her favourite 2 or 3 books for the particular subject of that chapter, but she frequently quotes contemporaries without attribution and there's no meticulous sourcing of her material, just a bibliography at the end. I realize this is meant to be a light-hearted popular history, but this lack of basic protocol when writing about historical periods or persons is annoying, to put it mildly. A pity, as otherwise I'd recommend it as a fun read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ensiform

    A popular history of the decade, zipping through the salient features of the cultural landscape (in America): Prohibition, gang violence, the rise of jazz, inchoate Hollywood and the talkies, Ford, flappers, the KKK and xenophobia, the Scopes trial, Lindbergh’s flight, and so on. It’s a fun ride, readable and instructive, though at times it reads like a thesis, and there’s quite a lot of unattributed quoted material. Some of the spotlights Moore shines are questionable – an entire chapter on Jack A popular history of the decade, zipping through the salient features of the cultural landscape (in America): Prohibition, gang violence, the rise of jazz, inchoate Hollywood and the talkies, Ford, flappers, the KKK and xenophobia, the Scopes trial, Lindbergh’s flight, and so on. It’s a fun ride, readable and instructive, though at times it reads like a thesis, and there’s quite a lot of unattributed quoted material. Some of the spotlights Moore shines are questionable – an entire chapter on Jack Dempsey, but only a passing mention of Babe Ruth or Ty Cobb? An examination of the character, scandals, and death of Warren Harding, but nothing about Coolidge, who was president for the majority of the decade? There’s nothing wrong with the pieces she writes – I found both of those chapters illuminating and enjoyable – but I doubt a serious historical work would suffer the same omissions. Some of her less obvious choices are, on the other hand, instructive, such as the look at how The New Yorker got its humble start. Though there’s no overall argument to the book, I got the sense of a ‘20s in America that was a sort of amalgam of the ‘50s and ‘60s: post-war prosperity and disposable income, mixed with rumblings of civil rights and a fatalistic, hedonistic rejection of normalcy and routine. In all, I came away educated and entertained by the book, lightweight though it might be; it’s certainly a reminder that there was never one monolithic American culture. And no “good old days.”

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gary Land

    Moore's book is an entertaining account of the "roaring" aspects of the 1920s. It covers virtually all of the notable symbols of the period--prohibition, gangsters, jazz, flappers, and so on. The "biography" in her subtitle reflects her approach in that nearly every chapter focuses on a representative individual--Al Capone, Jack Dempsey, Harry Crosby, etc. While a good popular history, the book does not dig very deeply and, therefore, does not examine the complexities of the period, namely that Moore's book is an entertaining account of the "roaring" aspects of the 1920s. It covers virtually all of the notable symbols of the period--prohibition, gangsters, jazz, flappers, and so on. The "biography" in her subtitle reflects her approach in that nearly every chapter focuses on a representative individual--Al Capone, Jack Dempsey, Harry Crosby, etc. While a good popular history, the book does not dig very deeply and, therefore, does not examine the complexities of the period, namely that most people went on living their lives in fairly traditional ways. Furthermore, although prohibition was a failure, it did reduce consumption of alcohol and, if I recall correctly, statistics indicate that such things as public drunkenness and cirrhosis of the liver declined. The book is generally accurate but the author inexplicably states that Babe Ruth's single season home run record of sixty still stands. Perhaps as an English woman, Moore can be forgiven, but an editor should have caught that error.

  26. 5 out of 5

    STEPHEN MACPHERSON

    An okay overview of a decade that has been written about extensively in the past. Moore is a British author, and there are some examples of a ignorance of common American culture, for instance she writes that Babe Ruth's Home Run record still stands. It does not. This book was written in 2010, and quick internet search by the editors would have shown that Roger Maris is the record holder, not withstanding the tainted records of Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire. The most fascinating portion of the boo An okay overview of a decade that has been written about extensively in the past. Moore is a British author, and there are some examples of a ignorance of common American culture, for instance she writes that Babe Ruth's Home Run record still stands. It does not. This book was written in 2010, and quick internet search by the editors would have shown that Roger Maris is the record holder, not withstanding the tainted records of Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire. The most fascinating portion of the book is Harry Crosby, a nihilist who deserved a solo biography. Though from the family of JP Morgan, Crosby volunteered in WWI (before America's official entry), witnessing horrible carnage that made him question his existence. He ran through his life wildly and without regard for himself and others, before reaching his inevitable violent end. The book does touch on the gulf between rich and poor, something that usually is missing in books more interested in the romanticism of the 1920's. There are better books about this subject, but this will give readers a quick overview.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Harris

    A fun depiction of the dynamic decade of 1920-1929 in the United States, "Anything Goes" paints an evocative, if brief, picture of many of the themes and people that made the decade so interesting, including bootleggers, flappers, Ford autos, "normalcy," Fitzgerald, and Lindbergh. Each chapter provides an overview of one of these major themes. While not the most detailed, exhaustive pieces of history, Moore writes a really nice introduction to the period, great to get a good feel for the time. S A fun depiction of the dynamic decade of 1920-1929 in the United States, "Anything Goes" paints an evocative, if brief, picture of many of the themes and people that made the decade so interesting, including bootleggers, flappers, Ford autos, "normalcy," Fitzgerald, and Lindbergh. Each chapter provides an overview of one of these major themes. While not the most detailed, exhaustive pieces of history, Moore writes a really nice introduction to the period, great to get a good feel for the time. She does, however, focus almost entirely on the US, only talking about France as the location for many American expats, sick of conventional American mores. I particularly liked Moore's linking of current events to the contemporary issues of the '20s in the introduction, but more much could have been expanded here, especially regarding such things as the reemergence of a revitalized KKK, the Scope Trial, and fears that Hollywood (or the media) was damaging American culture. Still, "Anything Goes" would be a great way to start learning about the 1920s in the US.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Marguerite Kaye

    This is, as some other reviewers pointed out, a gossipy history, with a fair seasoning of 'stars'. But it's exactly what I wanted. The Roaring Twenties of America in all its glossiness, its tawdriness, its spelndour and its tragedy, told well and with ample facts to back it up. Lucy Moore does put her stories in context, she does analyse and construct an overall historiography, but it's actually quite well-hidden because the stories themselves are so vivacious. It is there though, a kind of map This is, as some other reviewers pointed out, a gossipy history, with a fair seasoning of 'stars'. But it's exactly what I wanted. The Roaring Twenties of America in all its glossiness, its tawdriness, its spelndour and its tragedy, told well and with ample facts to back it up. Lucy Moore does put her stories in context, she does analyse and construct an overall historiography, but it's actually quite well-hidden because the stories themselves are so vivacious. It is there though, a kind of map or timeline, whatever you want to call it, from the start to the sudden and dramatic fall. It's not an economic history and nor is it political though there's political context in it (I had no idea Harding was so corrupt), but it's an excellent and entertaining wide view of the era, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. What's more, it's given me loads and loads of biographies to follow up on - not least the fascinating Harding. Highly recommended.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jill Hutchinson

    This is a fun and gossipy romp through the Roaring Twenties.......it touches on disparate subjects from sports to the "lost generation" fleeing to Paris to the Algonquin Round Table to the Ku Klux Klan to Lindbergh's trans-Atlantic flight. The author chose her subjects well and provides the reader with a colorful cross-section of that era. It's a fun read. Unfortunately there are a couple of glaring errors in the text which kept me from giving it a higher rating. On at least two occasions she ide This is a fun and gossipy romp through the Roaring Twenties.......it touches on disparate subjects from sports to the "lost generation" fleeing to Paris to the Algonquin Round Table to the Ku Klux Klan to Lindbergh's trans-Atlantic flight. The author chose her subjects well and provides the reader with a colorful cross-section of that era. It's a fun read. Unfortunately there are a couple of glaring errors in the text which kept me from giving it a higher rating. On at least two occasions she identifies the pioneer movie mogul Adolph Zukor as Adrian Zukor. Also when reporting on Babe Ruth's 60 home runs, she mistakenly states that the record still stands when indeed it has been broken seven times since Roger Maris hit 61 homers in 1961. (The book was published in 2010). Regardless I still enjoyed it for light reading.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

  31. 5 out of 5

    Elle Field

  32. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  33. 5 out of 5

    Steve

  34. 5 out of 5

    Xenchik

  35. 4 out of 5

    Claire

  36. 4 out of 5

    Deirdre

  37. 4 out of 5

    Judy

  38. 4 out of 5

    nicole

  39. 5 out of 5

    Carly Thompson

  40. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

  41. 5 out of 5

    David

  42. 5 out of 5

    Vivienne

    A quite interesting overview of the Twenties in the USA giving sketches of leading personalities as well as seminal events and trends. I found it a little 'bitty' in that respect though in the closing chapters she did give a wider perspective in terms of the clashing of values and the conflict between modernity and more conservative elements that resisted change.

  43. 5 out of 5

    Martyn Clayton

  44. 4 out of 5

    Patty

  45. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

  46. 5 out of 5

    Kate Spears

  47. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Totten

  48. 4 out of 5

    Gena

  49. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  50. 4 out of 5

    Geoff

  51. 5 out of 5

    Jane

  52. 4 out of 5

    Scott Ryalls

  53. 4 out of 5

    Christine Monaco

  54. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

  55. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Puthoff

  56. 4 out of 5

    Greg McClay

  57. 5 out of 5

    CJ - It's only a Paper Moon

  58. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Non-fiction. Fun overview of the twenties.

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