Only Yesterday is a historic masterpiece by Frederick Lewis Allen that gives the reader a glimpse of the uncharted period of the 1920s and America’s hyper transformation, from 1919 spilling over into the 1930s. The book paints the remarkable cultural portrait of the U.S. in a catastrophic period where lawlessness took precedence. Allen uses his literary ingenuity to retell a story of the post-war period, a decade that was characterized by the reign of Al Capone, the unprecedented boosterism of businesses, as well as the risqué touch of music and dancing style. Only Yesterday is more than just a dramatic novel, but a fact-filled exposé of the events that governed the roaring twenties, with Allen’s account largely focusing on the urban bourgeoisie of the White Americans.
Allen illustrates the cultural Renaissance from the point of view of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, a middle-class couple in America. His depiction of the detailed lifestyle of the couple helps the reader understand and contrast how Americans lived before and after the periods that followed World War I and World War II. For instance, he vividly describes the difficulty in starting a car in those days. The post-war decade also saw a revolution in morals and the absurd fascination with individuality. This social change swept both men and women across America, with the advent of cosmetics, raunchy dances, and short skirts becoming the vogue. The language also changed…
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