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Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties [Paperback]

Lucy Moore
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
RRP: £12.99
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Book Description

1 Sep 2009
Now in paperback, 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, 1920s America was a place of drama, tension and hedonism. It glittered and seduced: jazz, flappers, wild all-night parties, the birth of Hollywood, and a glamorous gangster-led crime scene flourishing under prohibition. But the period was also punctuated by momentous events - the political show trials of Sacco and Vanzetti; the huge Ku Klux Klan march down Washington DC's Pennsylvania Avenue - and it produced a splendid array of writers, musicians and film stars, from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Bessie Smith and Charlie Chaplin.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 389 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (1 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843547783
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843547785
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 220,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"'It was a decade that absolutely fizzed - and Lucy Moore has produced an absolutely fizzing book to match her subject. I could not put it down... The most entertaining work of history you are likely to read in a long while.' A. N. Wilson 'A varied and dazzling portrait gallery of crooks and film stars, boxers and presidents, each brilliantly delineated and coloured in by a historian with a novelist's relish for human foibles.' Christopher Hart, Sunday Times 'Eminently readable... A sparkling collection of the anecdotes and personalities that defined the roaring Twenties... Fascinating.' Jennifer O'Connell, Sunday Business Post 'Zestful... A delightful canter through the history of America in the 1920s' Sunday Times Books of the Year 'Like the champagne-immersed age she portrays, Moore's book effervesces with the detail of this fascinating story.' Juliet Nicolson, Evening Standard"


'Moore has a wonderful eye for the telling detail... The result is a varied and dazzling portrait gallery of crooks and film stars, boxers and presidents, each brilliantly delineated and coloured in by a historian with a novelist's relish for human foibles.' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Although I find the current trend among publishers for `biographies' of inanimate objects, ideas, phenomena etc mildly annoying, I can see why Atlantic might be hesitant to call this a history. In reality it's a collection of episodes strung together to illustrate different aspects of 1920s culture. There's no attempt to put these developments in context or provide much in the way of background. Moore's judgement can be suspect too. A chapter on Charles Lindbergh, for example, is devoted almost entirely to a Boy's Own account of his daring flight across the Atlantic; his well-documented and highly controversial political views barely merit a mention, so you're left with a very one-sided portrait of the man.

One final point to bear in mind is that this isn't a history of the 20s, it's a history of the 20s in America. Anyone looking for coverage of the General Strike, the rise of Nazism in Germany, the march of Leninism in Russia, agitation for independence in India, conflict in the Middle East, or the modernisation of China - or even who wants to see American events placed in a wider context - will be disappointed.

This said, Lucy Moore has written a hugely enjoyable book. There's not a lot of original research on show, so there won't be much here for the expert. For the rest of us, though, there's likely to be plenty that's of interest. I found the chapter on the Wall Street crash rather shallow, for example, but the chapters on the Harlem Renaissance, Harry Crosby and American bohemianism, and the circus surrounding Warren Harding fascinating.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining enough, but an average read... 5 Jan 2012
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.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely wonderful 1 Jan 2009
Received this book as a Christmas present, and read it pretty much in one (long) sitting. It's a fantastic read. It's very well structured, and full of anecdotes and details which are both interesting and illuminating. As soon as I finished it, I ordered some of Lucy Moore's other books from the library. Buy it and you won't be disappointed.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put this down 7 Jan 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I must admit that I usually prefer my history to be a bit more academic but this book proved to be impossible to put down and I polished the whole thing off in a couple of days. As the other reviewers have commented, this book only really considers the American experience and is more of a potted account of figures who shaped the decade such as Charles Lingburgh, Henry Ford, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Al Capone, Henry Ford and boxer Jack Dempsey. Subjects like the anarchist movements, the corruption in politics and the Klu Klux Klan are also considered whereas the most interesting parts of this book concerned the writer Harry Crosby about whom I previously knew nothing and the uncensored growth of Hollywood which echoes our own generations reservations about the Internet. Usually I would shun anything to do with the latter, but the emergence of the film industry and it's link to the Mob and the suppression of the knowledge as to just how unsavory the professional was in those days in order to create an illusion for the public was fascinating. Well written, this book carried you along with it's wealth of information about just how unbooted this decade was when anything did seem possible. My only reservations concerned the chapter that considered jazz which was a tad superficial as one would expect from a "populist" history as well as having a few factual errors, particularly regarding Louis Armstrong who all jazz fans will tell you made his recording debut two years earlier than stated with King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band and not Fletcher Henderson. A monumental howler!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read 14 Oct 2012
I have never had any conscious interest in this period in American history, and ended up reading this book totally by accident, but I'm very glad I read it. Each chapter offers a fascinating insight into key players or events or attitudes of the day. It was educational but never felt dry or boring to read. I would recommend it to anybody who wants to dip their toe in the water and learn a bit more about American history without being bored out of their skull in the process!
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