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Only Yesterday by Fredrick Lewis Allen Review

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Most people remember the twenties as a decade of life, new beliefs and fun. Only Yesterday by Fredrick Lewis Allen, is a book documenting life during the 1920’s.

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The 1920’s was known as the greatest era of Americas time. When the economy was booming, consumerism grew, technology was changing, and women began to obtain their rights. Only Yesterday, begins in May of 1919, where Allen introduces a character by the name of Roger Butterfield, where he begins to describe the comparisons of how life was post and pre-World War I. Because of these detailed descriptions the author uses it gives the reader a better understanding on how life was like back then.

The first major topic of the novel is about the reemergence of the KKK and the nationwide disgust towards communism after the war. Because of this many people became unsure of each other, because of the lack of trust. Which can be seen to be the cause of the reemergence of the KKK, including, the newly enforced immigration acts. The new era, at first, was seen to have had a bad start but, later it regained its popular name.

The radio, stated in the novel, was the first sort of technology that brought about a craze in society. It was used to broadcast sport events, news and entertainment. Thousands of people would listen in attendance to this new phenome. It changed daily life for many Americans during this time and was a daily recreation for many. Also, it became a family event as Allen described, where families would have cuddled up whether in the morning or evening and listen to the radio as a unit. However, during this time America was beginning to take on an individual mindset.

The emergence of the Flappers soon came after. Women were becoming less rigid and instead became more “outgoing”. However, this was vice versa with men as well. People began to want to act more like ‘themselves’, they took on foul language, sexual activity increased, clothing styles changed, and morals/manners were seen less of. Even in the Rogers relationship, readers could see have how sexuality during this time impacted his relationship with his spouse.

However, there was a set-back, like any era, during the 1920’s: The Harding Scandal. During Warren G. Harding’s presidency, a lot of corruption existed including: bribery, illegal looting and fraud. However, Harding died during his presidency due to a heart attack. Seen to have been influenced by all the corruption happening behind the doors of the white house. Although this happened, causing disappointment and confusion for the American society, the emergence of automobiles and a consumer society helped America significantly.

The emergence of the automobile helped Americas economy greatly. It was greatly advertised and used by millions of Americans. Not only that, it increased the jobs in the factory system greatly. Mass production was the biggest advancement in this sector as well, which increased consumerism. In all, this catapulted America’s economy including other factors. In all, this era for the economy was the biggest boom for America in history. However, this also led to the greatest depression in America, till today: the stock market crash.

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Overall, the novel was interesting. The author was able to document a bunch of precise information that could be understood be all readers. The roaring 20’s was a time of technological, physical and economic advancement in America’s history, influencing greatly our society today.

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