Acclaimed author Eric Burns investigates the year of 1920, which was not only a crucial twelve-month period of its own, but one that foretold the future, foreshadowing the rest of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st, whether it was Sacco and Vanzetti or the stock market crash that brought this era to a close.
Burns sets the record straight about this most misunderstood and iconic of periods. Despite being the first full year of armistice, 1920 was not, in fact, a peaceful time--it contained the greatest act of terrorism in American history to date. And while 1920 is thought of as starting a prosperous era, for most people, life had never been more unaffordable. Meanwhile, African Americans were putting their stamp on culture and though people today imagine the frivolous image of the flapper dancing the night away, the truth was that a new kind of power had been bestowed on women, and it had nothing to do with the dance floor. . .
From prohibition to immigration, the birth of jazz, the rise of expatriate literature, and the original Ponzi scheme, 1920 was truly a year like no other.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-03-02
- Reviewer: Staff
Burns (Invasion of the Mind Snatchers) takes readers on a thorough tour of the upheavals and events of the year when “the Roaring Twenties first began to roar.” More than a “preview of a decade,” 1920 was “a preview of the entire century and even the century to follow.” In particular, Burns focuses on the beginning of Prohibition, the passing of the 19th Amendment, the popular explosion of jazz, and the rise and fall of Charles Ponzi. He also touches upon corruption in the White House, the Teapot Dome Scandal, and the radical inequality of wealth distribution. The railroads, radio, and Planned Parenthood all saw development in 1920; the urban population overtook the rural for the first time. Burns leaps from one captivating topic to the next, displaying his expertise and sometimes drawing from his previous books to bring these trends and events to life. It’s an entertaining and informative look at a pivotal period, kicking off “a time of excitement, excess and enthusiasm” and “a century’s worth of turmoil and jubilation, irrationality and intrigue, optimism and injustice.” Burns makes it possible to recognize the century to come in this intimate study of a single year, and the result is downright fascinating. Agent: Linda Kenner, Linda Kenner Literary Agency. (May)