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. In fact, I'm only mildly embarrassed to admit that I went out and invested in a small library of early jazz records purely on the strength of Moore's enthusiastic descriptions of Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith wowing audiences in smokey, prohibition era gin-joints.
The 20s was a fascinating decade full of innovations and contradictions. In its worship of money, youth and celebrity, especially in sport and cinema, its love of technological innovation, its scandal and crime, its investment bubbles and widening inequalities, and its freedom and high spirits it has a lot to say to us. This well written, highly readable account, which fizzes along like a gin-sling, is a great, if limited and idiosyncratic, introduction.