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Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  489 ratings  ·  112 reviews
By the 1920s, women were on the verge of something huge. Jazz, racy fashions, eyebrowraising new attitudes about art and sex—all of this pointed to a sleek, modern world, one that could shake off the grimness of the Great War and stride into the future in one deft, stylized gesture. The women who defined this the Jazz Age—Josephine Baker, Tallulah Bankhead, Diana Cooper, N ...more
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published January 14th 2014 by Sarah Crichton Books (first published May 23rd 2013)
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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
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
rachael gibson
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
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
Becca Allen
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,
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
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
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
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
Peter Mcloughlin
This book traces the lives of six women who lived a glamorous and free but also harrowing life as a new kind of women living who emerged in the 1920s "the flapper". The word was used in the 19th century to denote a gawky adolescent girl but was attached to the new woman of the 1920s and the label is firmly stuck to the young bold women of that era. They broke the rules of their elders and sought the what then was called the fast life which involved the kind of freedom that women today don't have ...more
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
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.
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
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
Laura Harrison
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.
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
This book was fantastic. It took me a long time to get through because its long and very wordy. But otherwise i have no complaints about this book. The amount of footnotes in it is perfect just enough to where you can go learn something without spending the whole time flipping back and forth. I also wanted to say that before i even started reading the book i did a wikipedia search on the woman and its crazy to me that most of the woman had like half a page about them, especially when they had su ...more
If ever in a fog of self-doubt, for whatever reason, read biography and discover how universal it is to struggle and make one's way though the world. One of the most inspiring quotations on this comes from James Baldwin,

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”

Powerful and fascinating women in a fascinating time. A great introduction to some of history's most famous women, including Zelda Fitzgerald, Tallulah Bankhead, Tamara de Lempicka and Josephine Baker. It so amazes me that these women were so bold and individual so many years ago, and yet still, in many cases, victimized by men. So ironic, as well, that, being among the first "liberated women", they gave rise to the birth of the cosmetic and beauty industry (that so often now defines women by st ...more
This was surprisingly readable, and very interesting! In parts, she spends a little too much time on gossip, but overall I think she did a good job of pinning down the critical points in each woman's life. The women themselves certainly led incredible lives, though a few of them (Diana Cooper and Nancy Cunard) were also pretty similar. I thought that she tried a little too hard to weave the stories together, and was a little on the fence about how the book was broken up. But she covers a lot of ...more
Six women, all incredibly talented, driven...all plunked into the 20's and destined to be the models for the flapper...that reckless, wild, independent-but-not-really, liberated-but-not-really, young woman who tried to forge a life out of the chaos of war.

Six women...two noblewomen from England: Diana Cooper and Nancy Cunard. One refugee/artist: Tamara de Lempicka. Two Americans from Montgomery, AL: Tallulah Bankhead and Zelda Fitzgerald. One African American woman from St. Louis: Josephine Bake
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.
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
Maria K.
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.
Fascinating look at the period where women struck out on their own: working, living alone or with roommates and lovers, having sex outside marriage, drinking, driving, smoking, voting. The author looks at the era and the cultural, social and economic changes through the lens of six women. The book gives each woman two chapters, with an overall intro and epilogue that tie it all together. Tight time period of basically ten years (the 1920s) with bio info on each woman setting the stage for her st ...more
Tom Wascoe
The rating is based upon the detailed and extensive research the author did and in the effectiveness of telling the stories of these six women. However, the author's conclusions that "Even now their aspirations and battles have a resonance for us, and even now they hold up a standard against which our own vision and nerve can be judged," provides an unrealistic valuation of these women's lives. For the most part these were decadent and hedonistic women whose only concern was for 'self'. Interest ...more
I picked this book up because I am fascinated by the 1920s and it didn't disappoint. Flappers offers a good snippet of six extraordinary women. Each woman is the subject of two chapters in the book; one about their beginnings and rise to prominence and one about their prominence and struggles later in life. I confess that I knew nothing about Lady Diana Cooper and felt less interested in the chapters related to her. It would appear that the author was particularly interested in her as her chapte ...more
I'll admit that what drew me to this book was the cover art (not shown on the GR edition, unfortunately): a self-portrait by Tamara de Lempicka.

Of the six women found beyond the cover, I had only ever heard of three, and "heard of" was about as far as I got -- I knew nothing of their lives or passions; their triumphs or trainwrecks. And I didn't even know I was interested in finding out about their unique lives and careers.

This book is so much more than a
Sep 14, 2014 Camie marked it as to-read
The first addition to my Just Not Happening Shelf. Don't ask me why ? I just can't get through it, Life's Too Short ( to read ??? books )
Pam Mezaraups
Excellent biography on six iconic women that also says much about the social history of the twenties and follows them through their salad years and gives a wrap-up of the ending such as it is. Very well written and as good as fiction...highly recommend it for those who love this period (and I do).Would also receommend Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin by Marion Meade as well as her biography of Dorothy Parker. These women all led individual and daring lives but not necessarily happy ones...a heavy pri ...more
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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...
Bloomsbury Ballerina: Lydia Lopokova, Imperial Dancer and Mrs John Maynard Keynes Reading Dance Out of Line: The Story of British New Dance Zelda's Story (Flappers) Tamara's Story (Flappers)

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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
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