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Only Yesterday Paperback – June, 1957

4.7 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Paperback, June, 1957
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Editorial Reviews


''A perfectly grand piece of historical record and synthetic journalism.'' --Chicago Daily Tribune

''A style that is verve itself . . . Besides telling the story of the bull market in fine perspective, Mr. Allen presents the first coherent account that we have seen of the oil scandals that will eventually make the Harding regime match that of President Grant's and the Crédit Mobilier story in the history books of the future.'' --New York Times

''(Narrator) Grover Gardner's reading, with its slightly ironic tone, is effective as he describes the post World War I decade . . . The quality of the sound is excellent, and the reading is well paced and clear.'' --Library Journal --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From the Publisher

Originally published in 1931, soon after the era ended, this preprinted edition is still considered a classical account of the 1920s. Beginning with the end of World War I (November 11, 1918) on through to the stock market crash on November 12, 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression, the author provides a well-written history of the times. Some of the events of the day included are: Al Capone and Prohibition, scandals surrounding then president Harding, growth of the automobile industry, the first radio, and the "scandalous" rise of skirt hemlines. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins; New edition edition (June 1957)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060800046
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060800048
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 4.2 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,557,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This engaging account of the 1920's is an especially remarkable book given the year it was written: 1931. With remarkable detachment and prose which has stood up to the test of time, Frederick Lewis Allen wrote about the 1920's just after the decade had ended. Writing in a voice that is half that of a journalist and half that of a historian, Allen covers everything from presidents and presidential politics, to prohibition, the economy, sweeping social changes, the coming of mass media through radio, syndicated columnists, and increased attendance in movie houses; the red scare, the rise of business and science in popular esteem, religion, and a variety of other cultural and social events and trends. The modern era, it could be argued, began on Armistice Day, 11/11/1918.
The trends and issues of the post-World War I decade resound with amazing familiarity today, at the dawn of the 21st Century. Through reading Allen's account the reader is reminded that McCarthyism that oft referred to "ism," was hardly the invention of McCarthy, nor was it unique to the late 1940's and 1950's. A red scare based on hysteria and fear proceeded "McCarthyism" by a good thirty years. The red scare that was brought about by the Bolshevik Revolution was ferocious in its intensity. Fanned by the winds of a handful of true radicals, the red scare that came immediately after the war was characterized by labor unrest, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the trampling of any ideas or books that had a hint of "Bolshevism," mass deportations of Communists (or suspected Communists), and the waiving of due process under law with mass arrests.
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By A Customer on December 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Allen does not limit himself to the "great man" school of history, but gives a wide-ranging and colorful view of a decade disquietingly like the 90s/00s - a careening stock market, a failing war on drugs, and oil company execs in to clean up the White House. This book would get five stars for the Prohibition poem alone: "...it doesn't prohibit worth a dime/Nevertheless, we're for it!" One of the most interesting parts was what Allen doesn't - and couldn't - write about. Only Yesterday was written in 1931, before the full effects of Versailles had been felt. Viewed in that light, Allen's portrait of Wilson, while romanticized, astutely outlines why Wilson's ideas for the peace treaty were wise, and why they were so unlikely to ever be realized. From hemlines to geopolitics, Allen pulls it all together in a fascinating book.
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Format: Paperback
Only Yesterday offers a glimpse into the nineteen twenties from someone who actually lived it. First published in 1931, Frederick Lewis Allen writes of a decade that had just past. Most historians will tell you that it takes about twenty years after a decade before you can truly come to terms with what the decade was all about. However, this was not the case with Frederick Lewis Allen's work. He was able to show the decade for what it was, a truly amazing accomplishment in 1931!
His purpose was to show future generations, what his generation considered important in defining their times. In doing so he helped create a bridge between his generation and future generations who would later conduct research on the 1920s. In fact, while studying this period one soon find out, most historical works on the 1920s site Only Yesterday in their bibliographies. In fact, a through and comprehensive study of this period is not possible unless it includes Frederick Lewis Allen's works.
Furthermore, Fredrick Lewis Allen attempted to record the social and cultural history of the times. In 1931 this was a new and different form of history. (Just about as radical as the 1920s.) Frederick Lewis Allen can be regarded as a pioneer social historian. Prior to his work most mainstream histories were based solely on politics and international affairs.
More than half of Only Yesterday is on social and cultural events, which is one of the strongest points in his book. With the exceptions of chapters two and six, "Back To Normalcy" and "Harding And The Scandals", Allen's writings are geared towards the common people and how events of the day and the cultural changes affected them.
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By A Customer on February 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
This history book is written in a pleasant, authoritative but laid-back manner that makes it a particularly enjoyable read. I concur with the reviewer who wrote that it is a great source of background information to the writer. It does have a nice immediacy to it; strange fads that are mentioned in an offhand way, with the assumption that the reader will already be familiar with them, only add to the charm. The last couple of chapters about the stock market are particularly interesting reading, particularly considering the bizarrely similar economic climate we are living in today. They are, thankfully, written in a straightforward and clear manner --- perfectly accessible to those of us who don't have an economics background. One beef with this paperback edition --- where are the lovely illustrations from the original addition?
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