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Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties
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Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  400 ratings  ·  54 reviews
An exhilarating portrait of the era of jazz, glamour, and gangsters from a bright young star of mainstream history writing.

The glitter of 1920s America was seductive, from jazz, flappers, and wild all- night parties to the birth of Hollywood and a glamorous gangster-led crime scene flourishing under Prohibition. But the period was also punctuated by momentous events-the p
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Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 4th 2010 by Overlook Hardcover (first published November 1st 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,570)
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Toni
I thought this would be more of a social history of everyday people, but basically it's a collection of short overviews of the things in the 1920s that everyone has already heard of anyway--Al Capone, Henry Ford, the movie industry, etc. At least I thought it would be a fun refresher course.

Then things started to be noticeably different from other, well-researched books I'd read. First it was a bit about Charlie Chaplin that sounded different than I remembered from the biography I read, but I j
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Danielle
The first half of this book is excellent. Moore has a knack for weaving historical detail into a coherent narrative, telling the story of the Roaring Twenties. Her portrayal of Zelda Fitzgerald--as a woman who turned to hedonism as an escape from inner despair--was especially poignant. I didn't know much about the Fitzgeralds before I read that chapter, but I do not hesitate to say that it was the first time I encountered them as people. Moore's sweeping portrait of the jazz scene--as one of reb ...more
Kathy
This is the 1920s in America and I thought the book gave a good overview of the good and bad of the decade. Each chapter deals with a different topic such as: Chicago and its gangsters, music and dance (Charleston and the blues); religion and its impact on law and society; cars and the introduction of the modern factory (and labour laws) and the stock market and great crash to end the decade.

Much of this decade with its great changes in society and technology seems familiar even today. The fina
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Caroline
Not the greatest work of history I've ever read. It's entertaining and readable enough, but that's more a result of the subject than the actual content. The Twenties was a decade that is hard to make boring.

Moore takes a thematic approach rather than chronological, organising her chapters by topics such as celebrities, movies, sport, architecture, literature, politics. I'm not sure the approach works - it makes it much more a superficial, 'potted' history rather than anything approaching any kin
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alix
This book really was "just okay." It wasn't particularly cohesive--basically just a number of biographical essays on famous individuals from the '20s strung together without a coherent theme. It wasn't footnoted or well-researched, either. At one point in the bibliography the author notes that "as far as she knows" there is only one major work on Zelda Fitzgerald--as though she couldn't be bothered to check for sure. For a more well researched, better written, and generally more exciting read on ...more
Isabel
I received this from a friend, as I am interested in that period. Really fascinating accounts of crime in Chicago and good portrayal of Al Capone. My only criticism so far is that it is all set in the US. Still it got me playing some old Bessie Smith songs, which is a very good thing.
Dennis
This book is far less a biograpgy than a buffet of interesting information covering the decade of the twenties. Most educated people know something of each of the subjects, ideas and issues covered here from Al Capone and Prohibition to Sacco and Vanzetti to The Scopes trial to the Crash of 1929 and several others. The author gives each one enough depth to nudge the reader to investigate further. For example, I know too little about the lives, conviction and execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. I've ...more
Ensiform
A popular history of the decade, zipping through the salient features of the cultural landscape (in America): Prohibition, gang violence, the rise of jazz, inchoate Hollywood and the talkies, Ford, flappers, the KKK and xenophobia, the Scopes trial, Lindbergh’s flight, and so on.

It’s a fun ride, readable and instructive, though at times it reads like a thesis, and there’s quite a lot of unattributed quoted material. Some of the spotlights Moore shines are questionable – an entire chapter on Jack
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Gary Land
Moore's book is an entertaining account of the "roaring" aspects of the 1920s. It covers virtually all of the notable symbols of the period--prohibition, gangsters, jazz, flappers, and so on. The "biography" in her subtitle reflects her approach in that nearly every chapter focuses on a representative individual--Al Capone, Jack Dempsey, Harry Crosby, etc. While a good popular history, the book does not dig very deeply and, therefore, does not examine the complexities of the period, namely that ...more
Spoonbridge
A fun depiction of the dynamic decade of 1920-1929 in the United States, "Anything Goes" paints an evocative, if brief, picture of many of the themes and people that made the decade so interesting, including bootleggers, flappers, Ford autos, "normalcy," Fitzgerald, and Lindbergh. Each chapter provides an overview of one of these major themes. While not the most detailed, exhaustive pieces of history, Moore writes a really nice introduction to the period, great to get a good feel for the time. S ...more
Marguerite Kaye
This is, as some other reviewers pointed out, a gossipy history, with a fair seasoning of 'stars'. But it's exactly what I wanted. The Roaring Twenties of America in all its glossiness, its tawdriness, its spelndour and its tragedy, told well and with ample facts to back it up. Lucy Moore does put her stories in context, she does analyse and construct an overall historiography, but it's actually quite well-hidden because the stories themselves are so vivacious. It is there though, a kind of map ...more
Dominic
This book was an interesting survey of the roaring 20's decade. I believe that this was a little thrown together to tie in random events with other events that happened. It also focused on the negative personal tragedies (mostly drug use) of several actors in the blossoming Hollywood, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Al Capone. It also takes a look into a couple of other events that were key in the 1920's including Teapot Dome and the Sacco and Vanzetti trial. Generally, if you are looking for something ...more
Sara
It's an entertaining overview of a decade that is not written about, in my opinion, nearly enough. As an in-depth source...well, in that I was a trifle disappointed, but not terribly surprised. It pointed me towards interesting personalities and gave me a direction to look for more specific works. What most struck me, however, was the (often chilling) similarities between the corruption/fear/scandals/etc of the Twenties to what is going on today. It's a bit depressing, in its way--we don't seem ...more
Bruce
Reading this work gave me a feeling of 'deja vu all over again'. The author writes on a number of topics all concerned with the "Roaring Twenties," from Prohibition to the 1929 stock market crash. The post World War I era saw changes in many facets of life. New trends in writing, music and art exhibited a devil may care attitude among many. Hollywood came into its own, jazz and blues became the beat of the younger generation. Industries grew as farm and small town youth moved to the cities. Peop ...more
Jill Hutchinson
This is a fun and gossipy romp through the Roaring Twenties.......it touches on disparate subjects from sports to the "lost generation" fleeing to Paris to the Algonquin Round Table to the Ku Klux Klan to Lindbergh's trans-Atlantic flight. The author chose her subjects well and provides the reader with a colorful cross-section of that era. It's a fun read.

Unfortunately there are a couple of glaring errors in the text which kept me from giving it a higher rating. On at least two occasions she ide
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Phuong Dao
The Roaring Twenties was the time of prosperity. After WWI soldier got to come home with their family, and the economy during this time was great. Jobs were steady and many people begin to party and celebrate when their love ones came home from the war. They started to invest their money on houses and stock market, where they tried to earn or make money faster. The Roaring Twenties was also the period when artist, writer, and musicians became more noticeable in their community, the Harlem Renais ...more
Kate
It's not a perfect book, but I liked it all the same. The sparkling cynicism that is demonstrative of the twenties is on full display here. My one criticism is this: it's very broad, and frankly, rather obvious. I recognized nearly all the major players (the writers, the actors, Lindberg, natch). But... once again, St Paul, MN is left out of the story (except as F. Scott Fitzgerald's footnote, seeing as he came from St Paul). I wan't surprised, but I was disappointed.

So, despite how good of an
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Shelly
There was a lot of good information about social life and culture in the 20s, but the author's failure to understand basic economics marred her narrative significantly. In one paragraph she would note how disposable incomes increased during the 20s and corporate profits increased, then in the next she lamented the decline of unions, never drawing the connection that as workers disposable incomes increased, their motivations to join a labor union declined. Particularly damning was a statement abo ...more
Elise
Better account than anything you ever got in US History class! A fascinating look at the good, the bad and the ugly of life in the 1920's. Personalities such as Al Capone, President Harding, Charles Lindbergh, Charlie Chaplin, Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald, Mary Pickford, Theda Bara, Henry Ford, Jack Dempsey combined with events such as the Scopes Monkey Trial, 1929 stock market crash and resurgence of the Klu Klux Klan. I came away with the feeling that the 1920's a ...more
John
A really fun piece of nonfiction that captures the cultural highlights of the 20's. It's dishy and not focused on being extremely dry, which I liked. For someone who is very wary of non-fiction, I have to suggest this to anyone looking for a nice way to change that. I loved learning about the flappers, the outcasts, the writers...Moore knows how to take a time period's culture and pull out the most interesting little bits and pieces of it. It doesn't really have an overall purpose to it, but I t ...more
David Cleaver
This was a pretty good book. I enjoyed reading about the Roaring 20's and the big names of the decade of prosperity before the crash of the stock market. The English author Lucy Moore noted that Babe Ruth's single season home run record of 60 still stands today...I guess she missed that fact. It was interesting reading about the corrupt President Harding and his scandals as well as the power of Al Capone. I would say that Charles Lindbergh was the man of the decade by crossing the Atlantic Ocean ...more
B. Rule
This book is as light and frothy as the era it chronicles. You won't get any deeper analysis of the social milieu or the actors of the age, but you will find a series of entertaining vignettes of figures and movements that broadly define the Roaring Twenties. There are chapters about Jack Dempsey, the Fitzgeralds, Lindbergh, Hollywood, and the rise of skyscrapers, among other things. The book won't sate even a meager appetite for information about the 20's, but it is a pleasant appetizer for a m ...more
Charlotte
Well written, but I think the written version would have been better than the audio version. I wish the author would have included a richer lexicon of 20s terms, because the language of the 20s was one of the most colorful things. Also, I would have liked a little more information about the influence of Paris on the 20s in America as well as more information about fashions at the time. The author covers music, crime, and literature well enough, however.
Gillian
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christina
Engaging historical overview of the 1920s. Amazed to find its nuances with today...
Vivienne
A quite interesting overview of the Twenties in the USA giving sketches of leading personalities as well as seminal events and trends.

I found it a little 'bitty' in that respect though in the closing chapters she did give a wider perspective in terms of the clashing of values and the conflict between modernity and more conservative elements that resisted change.

Lauren
A random survey of the 1920s, this book suffers from the author’s opinions overshadowing the narrative and an obsession with relating the 1920s to modern times (yes, there are some parallels; no, they are not identical). Some interesting information, but it mostly made me want to read a book about the 1920s that didn’t seem like an amateur effort. Not recommended.
Dáithí G É Ó Murchú
This is a lighthearted yet serious work on an age that has resonances with our own (the roar of success and the cries of the crash). It examines the age in a way that is engaging. It is not a serious academic work, and sometimes the writing is a little sloppy, but it is, nonetheless, a book that is easy to grasp and stays with you long after the final page.
Carly
Instead of being a history book that flows from chapter to chapter, this one is divided into short topics (almost like each chapter was its own Wikipedia page: Chapter 1 is Al Capone, Chapter 2 is about jazz, etc. They are all fascinating subjects, but I look forward to reading Daniel Okrent's "Last Call" for more detail.
David Ward
Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties, by Lucy Moore (Overlook Press 2010) 973.91 is a fine romp through a fun period of American history. The author leads off with America's favorite bootlegger Al Capone and rolls right on through the flappers. Well done! My rating: 5/10. Finished 2/22/11.
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Lucy Moore was born in 1970 and educated in Britain and the United States before reading history at Edinburgh University. She is the editor of Con Men and Cutpurses: Scenes from the Hogarthian Underworld, and author of the critically acclaimed The Thieves Opera: The Remarkable Lives and Deaths of Jonathan Wild, Thief-Taker, and Jack Sheppard, House-Breaker (Viking 1996) as well as Amphibious Thing ...more
More about Lucy Moore...
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“The crash did not cause the Depression: that was part of a far broader malaise. What it did was expose the weaknesses that underpinned the confidence and optimism of the 1920s - poor distribution of income, a weak banking structure and insufficient regulations, the economy's dependence on new consumer goods, the over-extension of industry and the Government's blind belief that promoting business interests would make America uniformly prosperous.” 0 likes
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