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Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  885 Ratings  ·  151 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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Feb 08, 2015 Jaylia3 rated it it was amazing
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
rachael gibson
Jun 13, 2013 rachael gibson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 20, 2013 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Apr 05, 2013 Becca Allen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
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
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
Mar 04, 2015 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 16, 2014 Yasmin rated it really liked it
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
Aug 14, 2014 Terry rated it it was ok
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
Jan 19, 2014 Joanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 16, 2013 Agnesxnitt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
May 17, 2015 Kaethe rated it it was amazing
Library copy
Mar 09, 2015 Jen rated it did not like it
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
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
Jul 12, 2014 Eliza rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 01, 2015 Natalie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 18, 2015 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
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
Feb 22, 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.
Aug 10, 2013 Jayde rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jill Meyer
Jul 22, 2016 Jill Meyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Does artistic "genius" in a person evolve from some sort of emotional unbalance? How often do we find those who are acclaimed "geniuses" in artistic matters quite unable to function within the limits placed on them by polite society? Would a Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald or a Tullulah Bankhead - among others - be seen today as anything less than "high maintenance" personalities? In her new book, "Flappers", British author Judith Mackrell takes an engaging at six such women, all who came of age in the 1 ...more
May 27, 2015 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a quick and entertaining read on a plane it serves it's purpose. You do learn something about the six women if you didn't know anything at all about them. But, do not go into this expecting the author to do any deep interpretation or analysis of their lives. You don't get much understanding of why they truly did the things they did other than "it was after the Great War and things were weird". Basically, nothing that hasn't already been stated a thousand times before by other historians of th ...more
Feb 20, 2015 Candice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
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
Aug 20, 2014 Molly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.”

PennsyLady (Bev)

women "glamorized, mythologized, and demonized" (from Flappers

Flappers contains extensive notes, bibliography and index.
It's a joy for the reader that appreciates precision in research.

This literary work includes the life tales of 6 women who defined the Jazz Age—Josephine Baker, Tallulah Bankhead, Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Tamara de Lempicka...
We search primarily their formative years and encounters in the 1920's.
But, we do move on and experience the oft occ
Claudia Taller
Feb 03, 2016 Claudia Taller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mackrell did an amazing job telling us the stories of Josephine Baker, Tallulah Bankhead, Diana Cooper, Tamara de Lempicka, and Nancy Cunard. These women of the 1920s decided women were too much under control by men and were determined to make their own way in the world artistically, financially, and sexually. I found their stories inspirational, and I admired Mackrell’s ability to write about these women in alternating chapters that hung together by overlapping somewhat and being told chronolog ...more
Jul 27, 2016 Erica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in women's history, people interested in the Roaring 20s
The ladies of this book have familiar names. Josephine Baker. Tallulah Bankhead. Tamara de Lempicka. For me, i knew their names, i knew somewhat of what they did, but i didn't really know who they were. And that is why i absolutely loved this book. On the surface, its a primer of the lives of six incredible women who were icons of their age: Josephine. Tallulah. Tamara. Nancy Cunard. Diana Cooper. Zelda Fitzgerald. These women defined the Roaring 20s, they were the epitome our classic views of t ...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.
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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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