Archive for February 26th, 2010

Reading the Roaring Twenties

The Flapper: An Icon of American Culture

For me, the 1920s are the cat’s pyjamas.  Those dapper sheiks and their swank flappers, drinking giggle water and doing the Charleston to hot jazz in some ritzy speakeasy. It almost makes me wish I had grown up in that era, and how!

Did I go too far with the slang? (We do have books to help you out with some of those words, if you’re interested ;). The era just seems so fascinating I go a bit overboard. Regardless, if you’re interested in learning more about the decade that gave us the Scopes Monkey Trial, the Harlem Renaissance, and some of the greatest works of the  Lost Generation, check out one of these items. They’re the bee’s knees! (Okay, I’ll stop.)


1929 by Frederick Turner – A fictional account of the life of jazz great Bix Beiderbecke

7000 Clams by Irby Lee – A bootlegger, a big score, and Babe Ruth

The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell by Loraine Depres – A young widow, a rebellious streak, 1920.

Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold – Magic, illusion, and a stunt starring President Harding

China Star by Bartle Bull – Intrigue, adventure, and romance from Paris to Shanghai

Fire in Beulah by Rilla Askew – A fictional account of the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921

Gatsby’s Girl by Caroline Preston – Fictional account of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first love

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – Money, love and jealousy collide in high society

Hollywood: A Novel of the 1920s by Gore Vidal – Politics, scandal, and the early silver screen

Jazz by Toni Morrison – Love and tragedy set against the rhythm of 1920s Harlem

The Jazz Bird by Craig Holden – Prohibition and murder, based on a real 1927 trial

One Sunday Morning by Amy Ephron – Four women witness a possible society scandal

Sea Glass by Anita Shreve – Marriage, memory and 1929.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway – The “Lost Generation” in France and Spain after WWI.

The Tropic of Capricorn by Henry Miller – Miller’s 1920’s life in New York (with lots of sex).

When Washington Was in Vogue: A Love Story (Lost Novel of the Harlem Renaissance) by Edward Christopher Williams – Davy, observant of others but oblivious of himself, finds love



Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle

Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties by Lucy Moore

The Bobbed Haired Bandit: A True Story of Crime and Celebrity in 1920s New York by Stephen Duncombe

The Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino by Emily Wortis Leider

A Flame of Pure Fire: Jack Dempsey and the Roaring ’20s by Roger Kahn

Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modern by Joshua Zeitz

The Great Swim by Gavin Mortimer – The stories of four women who swam the English Channel

The Jazz Age: The 20s

Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the Nineteen Twenties by Frederick Lewis Allen

Peaches & Daddy: A Story of the Roaring Twenties, the Birth of Tabloid Media and the Courtship that Captured the Heart and Imagination of the American Public by Michael M. Greenburg

Posing a Threat: Flappers, Chorus Girls, and Other Transgressive Performers of the American 1920s by Angela J. Latham

The Roaring Twenties by Phillip Margulies

Whispering Wires: The Tragic Tale of an American Bootlegger by Philip Metcalfe



NPR – Timeline: Scopes Monkey Trial

John Carroll University – Harlem Renaissance

Ohio State University – Temperance and Prohibition – Film History of the 1920s