Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Flapper by Joshua Zeitz

Genre: Non-Fiction (Very Rare for me)
Pages: 291 pp
Isbn: 9781400080540
Published: February 2007
Challenge: This does not cover a challenge at this time. Was pure pleasure and my interest.

First Sentence or two: On May 22, 1915, amid a flurry of cameras and a battery of outstretched hands, most bearing autograph books and pens, Eugenia Kelly, the young heiress to a sizable New York banking fortune, pushed past waves of idle celebrity watchers and slowly wound her way up the marble staircase at the Yorkville Magistrate's Court, on Manhattan's fashionable Upper East Side.

Synopsis: Blithely flinging aside the Victorian manners that kept her disapproving mother corseted, the New Woman of the 1920s puffed cigarettes, snuck gin, hiked her hemlines, danced the Charleston, and necked in roadsters. More important, she earned her own keep, controlled her own destiny, and secured liberties that modern women take for granted. Her newfound freedom heralded a radical change in American culture.

Whisking us from the Alabama country club where Zelda Sayre first caught the eye of F. Scott Fitzgerald to Muncie, Indiana, where would-be flappers begged their mothers for silk stockings, to the Manhattan speakeasies where patrons partied till daybreak, historian Joshua Zeitz brings the era to exhilarating life. This is the story of America’s first sexual revolution, its first merchants of cool, its first celebrities, and its most sparkling advertisement for the right to pursue happiness.

The men and women who made the flapper were a diverse lot.

There was Coco Chanel, the French orphan who redefined the feminine form and silhouette, helping to free women from the torturous corsets and crinolines that had served as tools of social control.

Three thousand miles away, Lois Long, the daughter of a Connecticut clergyman, christened herself “Lipstick” and gave New Yorker readers a thrilling entrĂ©e into Manhattan’s extravagant Jazz Age nightlife.

In California, where orange groves gave way to studio lots and fairytale mansions, three of America’s first celebrities—Clara Bow, Colleen Moore, and Louise Brooks, Hollywood’s great flapper triumvirate—fired the imaginations of millions offilmgoers.

Dallas-born fashion artist Gordon Conway and Utah-born cartoonist John Held crafted magazine covers that captured the electricity of the social revolution sweeping the United States.

Bruce Barton and Edward Bernays, pioneers of advertising and public relations, taught big business how to harness the dreams and anxieties of a newly industrial America—and a nation of consumers was born.

Towering above all were Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, whose swift ascent and spectacular fall embodied the glamour and excess of the era that would come to an abrupt end on Black Tuesday, when the stock market collapsed and rendered the age of abundance and frivolity instantly obsolete.

With its heady cocktail of storytelling and big ideas, Flapper is a dazzling look at the women who launched the first truly modern decade.

Random Thoughts -Was this the first teen angst rebellion? I don't know if in fact it was but this is what it seemed to me. I found this book really entertaining to read. With all its facts and information Mr. Zeitz brings the pages alive in this book. Never did I find it boring or tedious to read. I felt as if I was in a well liked sociology class. To see the hows and whys some of the things came about was thoroughly interesting. If you have ever loved the period of the "Roaring 20's", or have thought you would've been a flapper, then I think you would Enjoy reading this book. It's a very rare thing for me to LOVE a non-fiction book but "Flapper" has a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf. Kudos!

Rating - 5 Stars Easily


Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting me know you had this review up!

I like that you said reading the book was like being in a good sociology class - that makes me excited to read it! I love finding out how social trends came to be and why, and especially if it's told in a way that keeps those details exciting. I don't read much non-fiction, but this sounds like such a great book.

Anonymous said...

Glad to know you enjoyed it so much! I'm definitely going to have to read it--looks right up my alley!

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