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Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  998 Ratings  ·  171 Reviews
Glamorized, mythologized and demonized - the women of the 1920s prefigured the 1960s in their determination to reinvent the way they lived. Flappers is in part a biography of that restless generation: starting with its first fashionable acts of rebellion just before the Great War, and continuing through to the end of the decade when the Wall Street crash signal led another ...more
Hardcover, 1st, 488 pages
Published May 23rd 2013 by Macmillan
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Jaylia3
Jan 19, 2015 Jaylia3 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Flappers is a book that time-trips into the brave new world tempest of the 1920’s through the lives of six independent-minded and fascinating women. Their backgrounds could hardly be more different, but each of them upended conventional expectations by working hard to discard the hand they had been dealt, and all them spent time in Paris, the magnetic city that drew seekers from across the globe looking for avant-garde adventure during the lively decade sandwiched between the Great War and the G ...more
Paul
Feb 01, 2017 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quick, name the decade: Women become increasingly assertive about their right to be equal with men, topics like abortion and contraception become flashpoints, and previously rigid lines dividing gender and sexuality become blurred – all of which leads to a significant cultural backlash.

So what's the decade? The 2010s? The 1960s-70s? No, it's the 1920s, as Judith Mackrell makes clear in her riveting history of the decade through the lives of six famous, stubborn, groundbreaking and often conflict
...more
rachael gibson
Jun 13, 2013 rachael gibson rated it it was amazing
Yet another book about flappers for me - do I need to find a new genre??

Downloaded this to read on a four-day train journey and devoured it in two - six short, readable, fascinating biographies of half a dozen women whose lives intersected, personally as well as through their obvious common ground.

Whether you're a flapper-freak already or just want an introduction to some notable characters from the era before investing in more indepth biographies, this makes for a brilliant read.

Without distrac
...more
Anne
Feb 17, 2013 Anne rated it it was amazing
Judith Mackrell is the Guardian's dance critic and is the author of four other books, all non-fiction, and all based around dance.

Flappers, sub-titled 'Six Women of a Dangerous Generation' is a multi-biography. Judith Mackrell follows six women from the 1920s who between them were the faces of this generation.

Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard, Tallulah Bankhead, Zelda Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker and Tamara de Lempicka were either adored or scorned by the public. They were women who broke the mould, who
...more
Gerry
Aug 21, 2016 Gerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 'Flappers' Judith Mackrell selects six women who epitomised the 1920s as a new breed of young women who lived life to the full under their own rules. They often wore short skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behaviour. They were seen as brash for wearing excessive makeup, drinking, treating sex in a casual manner, smoking, driving automobiles, and otherwise flouting social and sexual norms. In 1920, for instance, The ...more
Becca Allen
Feb 15, 2013 Becca Allen rated it it was amazing
Not only is this a biography of six women in one - Nancy Cunard, Tallulah Bankhead, Josephine Baker, Diana Cooper, Zelda Fitzgerald and Tamara de Lempicka - it is also a biography of the flapper; the 1920s girls who broke the mould and irreversibly changed the status of women.

Mackrell has chosen six women from very different backgrounds and who lived very different lives, yet who still came to embody - even create - the flapper. I was only previously familiar with the story of Josephine Baker,
...more
Bronwyn
I really enjoyed this book. Going into it I knew little about any of the women. I'd previously read some about Zelda Fitzgerald and Diana (Manners) Cooper, and recognized Tamara de Lempicka's paintings, but that was about it. This book expanded on the little I knew, and gave me great starting points on the other women.

Flappers covers the lives of Diana Manners Cooper, Nancy Cunard, Tamara de Lempicka, Tallulah Bankhead, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Josephine Baker. Mackrell has two chapters on each wom
...more
BAM The Bibliomaniac
The generation may have been dangerous, but these women were just pitiful.

2017 Lenten Buddy Reading Challenge book #27
Erin
Flappers is ostensibly a look at six representative women of “a dangerous generation”: Josephine Baker, Tallulah Bankhead, Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Tamara de Lempicka. But it is much more than that; it is a fascinating history of an age on both sides of the Atlantic, a look at feminism and its progress, a kind of psychological profile of a generation and an age, a social commentary, and even a short course in early modern art, drama, and literature. Many other stars of t ...more
Yasmin
Nov 08, 2014 Yasmin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first I was wondering why not Louise Brooks, Colette or Clara Bow? But then as I read on I can see why the author picked those six. There was a thread that connected all six and in many ways they all had similarities. Sadly Zelda and Tamara had very sad endings and even now I'm not sure both have their complete fair dues. However, this book brings both into focus as well and clearly as Diana, Nancy, Josephine and Tallulah. They are not only women of their era of a set time in the roaring 20s. ...more
Joanne
Nov 26, 2013 Joanne rated it really liked it
I was looking forward to reading this book from the moment I heard about it. I'm really attracted by this period in history, and I love biographies. My reading about and from the early twentieth century has expanded greatly since joining the Bright Young Things group on Goodreads last year, and I think that group may be where I first heard about this book.

The six women Judith Mackrell writes about are: Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard, Tallulah Bankhead, Zelda Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker and Tamara de
...more
Terry
Jul 29, 2014 Terry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I know this has somehow become my default reaction to books, recently, but: I wanted to like this book more than I did. Really it covers about 10-15 years in the lives of each of these women. That time period is broken into two parts, and then the entire book switches between all six women, twice over; an epilogue to the whole book covers the rest of their (usually pretty depressing) lives. I ended up just reading the two parts for each woman together instead of reading the book straight through ...more
Denise
This was an extremely interesting and well-researched book about six notable flappers. They were Josephine Baker, Tallulah Bankhead, Zelda Fitzgerald, Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard and Tamara de Lempicka.

They came from different walks of life but all shared several commonalities: creativity, fierce drive for independence, talent and a strong desire for revolution. They lead extremely interesting lives in exotic places. They also suffered hardships and battled hard to gain respect equal to their mal
...more
Agnesxnitt
Aug 24, 2013 Agnesxnitt rated it really liked it
Marvelous - well written and with a couple of chapters to each 'Dangerous Woman' about their rise to fame and afterwards.
The 20's seem to have been a wonderfully indulgent time to live - but only if you had the money, or the noteriety and cash, to really party through the decade.
Some women were not satisfied with just living as society expected, and the women, or Ladies in some cases, certainly weren't and acted accordingly.
Though their antics/life styles/life choices would hardly raise an eyebr
...more
El
Feb 18, 2014 El marked it as to-read
Kaethe
Mar 27, 2014 Kaethe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Library copy
Lily
Mar 07, 2017 Lily rated it liked it
This wasn't the best piece of nonfiction I've ever read, but the content was certainly interesting. The six women in this book, Zelda Fitzgerald, Tallulah Bankhead, Josephine Baker, Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard, and Tamara de Lempicki, exemplified the entire generation and the cultural phenomenon of the flapper. These women were linked in their incredibly depressing love lives and their sometimes debilitating need to be seen. By far the most interesting sections were Zelda's. That couple! Such tur ...more
Jen
Jan 13, 2015 Jen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was drawn to this title because it had been awhile since I'd read a biography and I liked the fact that it highlighted six women so I felt like I could get more of a sense for the generation rather than just one person's life. Some of the women I was familiar with (Zelda Fitzgerald, Tallulah Bankhead, Josephine Baker) and others I'd never heard of (Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunnard, and the annoying Russian expatriate). Sadly my excitement about the book ends with the anticipation I had. The two mai ...more
Vivienne
Since reading The Great Gatsby at the start of this year I've been quite fascinated by the 1920s. This proved a well-researched and beautifully presented biography of six iconic women of the 1920s. I've both read and listened to this book quite slowly over a six week period and found it a memorable and informative journey.

I was only really familiar with the life of Zelda Fitzgerald though knew of Josephine Baker and Tallulah Bankhead. I also had seen some of the art of Tamara de Lempicka during
...more
Tristan Robin Blakeman
Intriguing and fascinating, this book is a collection of short-story/novella length biographies of six women who defined the Jazz Age: Josephine Baker, Tallulah Bankhead, Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Tamara de Lempicka. All of them were considered daring and scandalous for their time - and some of their actions would still be considered daring and scandalous today! I have read full-length biographies of both Zelda Fitzgerald and Josephine Baker, so those "chapters" didn't ho ...more
Melinda
May 24, 2014 Melinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was about six women who came of age during the Roaring 20's and became ground-breaking "flappers". The six subjects were British aristocrats Lady Diana Manners and Nancy Cunnard, painter Tamara De Lempicka and three Americans: Josephine Baker, Zelda Fitzgerald and Tallulah Bankhead. All of these women were way ahead of their time - nervy, independent and determined to live life as they liked. Flappers was highly readable and held my interest throughout (even the footnotes were interest ...more
Jayde
Aug 03, 2013 Jayde rated it really liked it
To be honest, I loved this book. I'm not sure what's holding me back from a 5 star review, but something is. If you want a brief look into the life of 6 quite amazing ladies of the 20s then this book is one for you. Don't be put off by its size, each section is an absolute joy and breeze to read. I think the missing star is because I'm now going to have to go and read more in-depth about each one and some of the other figures mentioned such as Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Waugh and I already ...more
Sarrah
Feb 17, 2014 Sarrah rated it liked it
A number of typos threw me off, but I loved how Mackrell gave each of the six women her own voice. Even more commendable was the light that shone on Zelda Fitzgerald--her husband's. No other men figured as prominently as did Scott, and people who have read other biographies or sketches about Zelda know how closely tied were the behaviors and personalities of the husband and wife duo. Also, Mackrell never shied away from making the reader dislike any of these women (and there were any number of r ...more
Eliza
Jul 12, 2014 Eliza rated it it was amazing
A brief synopsis of the lives of 6 iconic, almost canonical women, focused on their naissance in the 1920s as they dare to push the bounds of convention. A fair account although, after a credible start, it starts to read like a litany of credits of others' works with limited additional critical value. The themes tying the biographies together also become a little fraught; the inclusion of various sources spanning the women became tenuous and clumsy, but on the whole an enjoyable intro.
Natalie
May 29, 2015 Natalie rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
An interesting and engaging take on the twenties, but one that sometimes projects a little too much into the women's heads, as there is no way that Mackrell could actually know what they thought or felt, especially when she doesn't cite any sources to back up her point. Recommended for serious fans of the twenties.
Penny
May 01, 2013 Penny rated it really liked it
Loved this - six biographies - Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard, Tallulah Bankhead, Zelda Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker and Tamara de Lempicka.
Six fascinating women, often very troubled, and Mackrell showed how their lives sometimes overlapped.
Well researched, well written and the sort of book that makes you want to read more about each of these women.
Laura Harrison
Jan 31, 2015 Laura Harrison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everything you ever wanted to know about flappers is here-in glorious detail. The author chose 6 of the most fascinating flappers of the 20's; my fave's being Tallulah Bankhead and Josephine Baker. Written colorfully and quite spectacularly. I truly enjoyed it.
Maria K.
Oct 12, 2014 Maria K. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book on six different women, and six different ways of being a flapper. An engaging read about the roaring twenties and some of the women who defined that era.
I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in art, the jazz age or intriguing, free-spirited women.
Allison
Jan 05, 2016 Allison rated it liked it
I found this book too basic and simplistic....and these women's lives are so much more interesting as they age. they are all in the early to mid 20s here....too immature!
Teresa
Apr 06, 2013 Teresa rated it it was amazing
Loved this, my favourite era! Review to follow whenever I get caught up...
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Judith Mackrell is a writer and dance critic for the Guardian. She lives in London with her husband and two sons.
More about Judith Mackrell...

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“Willing to run the risks of their independence as well as enjoy its pleasures, there were good reasons for them to be perceived as women of a dangerous generation.” 0 likes
“As a writer, his vision was maturing. He could see that Gatsby’s desperate wish to reclaim his perfect love with Daisy was part of the bright, precarious dream of his own generation, a dream that confused the ownership of beautiful things with happiness and freedom.* Scott” 0 likes
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