The 1920s by Kathleen Drowne and Patrick Huber was first published in 2004 and is focused on the developments in the popular culture of a particular time period in history. Popular culture refers to the framework of attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, customs, and developed tastes that define the population of a particular society. Thus, the way in which people entertain themselves, who are their idols, and what are their rituals can define an era. When assigned to reach the book, I was very excited because the popular culture of the 1920s is notable for its loud parties, a boom in film entertainment, music, and literature. Since The 1920s is a non-fictional book, it is imperative to mention that there will be no main characters that will be developed in the story.
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In the first part of the book, which the authors called “Life and Youth During the 1920s,” the authors explore the everyday life of American people. This part is of great importance because it provides a background for the discussion of the popular culture of the time period. The rise of big business brought people an unprecedented level of prosperity, which influenced their purchasing habits and the desire to get entertained. As a reaction to the changing economics, advertisers started being more proactive in marketing expensive products to the population ranging from silk stockings to automobiles. Henry Ford was the best example of the new business ethos of America as he pioneered the methods of mass production and labor relations.
In the second part of the book, “Popular Culture of the 1920s,” Kathleen Drowne and Patrick Huber proceeded with the discussion of mass consumerism and its influence on popular culture. The increase in purchasing power fueled by persistent advertisement efforts led to the rapid development of media and entertainment. Radio became an important part of daily life as national programs became sponsored by manufacturers and distributors of brand-name products. Movies were also a new form of mass entertainment, with such films as The Great Train Robbery becoming the first story sequence to reach the big screen. The budgeting of movies also increased dramatically.
In the last part of the book, the authors dedicated more attention to recreation and leisure activities embedded in the culture of the 1920s. The Flapper lifestyle became very popular during that time as the allure of women contributing to the effectiveness of the advertisement. Women started proclaiming their freedom by making bolder choices in their fashion, such as shortened hemlines, a new bob hairstyle, as well as more noticeable and vibrant makeup. The flapper lifestyle coincided with the jazz age in major cities, contributing to the increased popularity of loud parties as well as a new sense of racial pride (Drowne and Huber 194).
Overall, the book was interesting for delving into the lives of people in the 1920s. The authors showed that there was an increased sense of liberation within American society, which led to the rapid expansion of entertainment as well as changing consumer behaviors. People wanted to celebrate the end of WWI and thus were more comfortable in expressing their feelings and perspectives. The comprehensive look in the 1920s that Drowne and Huber offered to their readers is highly valuable to understanding the characteristics of the historical period, which is why I was glad to read the book.
Drowne, Kathleen, and Patrick Huber. The 1920s. Greenwood Press, 2004.