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Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920's


Only Yesterday

Hailed as a classic even when it was first published in 1931, Only Yesterday remains one of the most vivid and precise accounts of the volatile stock market and the heady boom years of the 1920's. A vibrant social history that is unparalleled in scope and accuracy, it artfully depicts the rise of post - World War I prosperity, the catalytic incidents that led to the Crash of 1929, and the devastating economic decline that ensued--all set before a colorful backdrop of flappers, Al Capone, the first radio, and the "scandalous" rise of skirt hemlines. Now, this mesmerizing chronicle is reintroduced to offer readers of today an unforgettable look at one of the most dynamic periods of America's past.

With a novelist's eye for detail and a historian's attention to the facts, Frederick Lewis Allen tells a story that will ignite your imagination as its rich pageant of characters and events comes alive. Peppering his narrative with actual stock quotes and financial news, Allen tracks the major economic trends of the decade and explores the underlying causes of the Crash. Here are fresh accounts of Harding's oil scandals and the growth of the automobile industry, as well as the decline of the family farm, the Coolidge prosperity, and the long bull market of the late twenties. Allen's virtual hour-by-hour account of the Crash itself, told from multiple perspectives with mounting suspense, is as gripping as anything you are likely to read in fiction.

In addition to his power as a storyteller, Allen was a living witness to the events he describes; there is a thrilling you-are-there feeling about the unfolding history. After a brief "return to normalcy" following the War, the pace of life in America quickly escalated to a full gallop. New forces were being unleashed: prosperity with serious inflation, larger-than-life figures such as J. Pierpont Morgan and Henry Ford, and the Big Red Scare of the early twenties. Allen documents the new inventions, fads, and scandals as they affected the daily life of the country, including the impact of Freud and Einstein, Prohibition and Al Capone, Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey, the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti, and the shocking changes in manners and morals. In Only Yesterday we hear America talking to itself from coast to coast, furiously debating its own rapidly evolving destiny.

An engaging narrative that describes the harried, often tumultuous events of Wall Street in the twenties, as well as the infectious spirit of the times, Only Yesterday is not only a compelling account of years gone by, but a true classic that will be appreciated for years to come.

"When this fascinating social history of America in the 1920's was first published in 1931, the twenties were indeed Only Yesterday. But, as Mr. Allen makes clear, they were so much more than the clich-- would have it. . . . Frederick Allen's marvelous book brings back an exciting time in the life of the nation. I am quite sure you will enjoy reading it as much as Mr. Allen and I enjoyed living it." --from the Foreword by Roy R. Neuberger.

Recognized as a classic even when it was first published in 1931, Only Yesterday is a fascinating and revealing chronicle of the volatile stock market and heady boom years of the 1920's. Written by an esteemed historian who witnessed firsthand the explosive atmosphere and events of the time, this compelling narrative takes its place as one of the most important and invaluable contributions to investment literature.

Acclaim for Only Yesterday

"Marvelously absorbing . . . Only Yesterday tells the story of the 1920's from the collapse of Wilson and the New Freedom to the collapse of Wall Street and the New Era." --Stuart Chase, Books.

"A perfectly grand piece of historical record and synthetic journalism." --Fanny Butcher, Chicago Tribune.

"A style that is verve itself . . . Besides telling the story of the bull market in fine perspective, Mr. Allen presents the first coherent account that we have seen of the oil scandals that will eventually make the Harding regime match that of President Grant and the Crédit Mobilier story in the history books of the future." --John Chamberlain, The New York Times.

FREDERICK LEWIS ALLEN was a noted author and historian whose other widely acclaimed works include Since Yesterday: The Nineteen Thirties in America and Great Pierpont Morgan.
Prelude: May, 1919.

Back to Normalcy.

The Big Red Scare.

America Convalescent.

The Revolution in Manners and Morals.

Harding and the Scandals.

Coolidge Prosperity.

The Ballyhoo Years.

The Revolt of the Highbrows.

Alcohol and Al Capone.

Home, Sweet Florida.

The Big Bull Market.


Aftermath: 1930-31.