The Dollar Decade: Mammon and the Machine in 1920s America by Gary D Best

By Gary D Best

This publication examines the underlying factors of the tumult of the Nineteen Twenties in the United States that has seeing that captivated writers, readers, moviegoers, and tv audience. throughout the Twenties, american citizens have been conscious of the momentous adjustments happening of their lives. It was once an introspective decade. Magazines and newspaper articles, books and anthologies explored the motives, nature, and implications of these adjustments. The influence of radio, and to a lesser quantity films, rivaled the consequences that the discovery of printing had had on human society 1000s of years previous. upload to those advancements the results of global conflict I and the popularization of Freud and Darwin, and the outcome used to be an the United States forged adrift on a sea of normlessness, treading water among worlds: one among balance and culture ahead of the struggle, and one as but dimly perceived within the mists of the future.

While Freud challenged notions of conventional habit, Darwin challenged conventional non secular ideals. the arriving of the cheap motor vehicle reworked human mobility on a scale no longer visible because the domestication of the pony and the discovery of the wheel millions of years prior to. yet these past adjustments had now not ushered in such a lot of cataclysmic alterations in so brief a time. the writer keeps that purely during this context can a lot of the habit of the time be understood, from the recognition of the Ku Klux Klan to the excesses of the flappers and the jazz age.

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We have tried to build the family life upon selfishness, and we have failed. . ”24 While men were filing for more divorces than were women, by about a 2–1 margin, it was women who were more likely to be charged with desertion (in half of the filings) or adultery (one-fifth). 5 percent, figures that suggested the growing emancipation of women was at least partly responsible for marital ills. 26 Only the onset of the depression, and the resultant economic securities of the 1930s, stemmed the onward tide of divorce.

Literature on sex, from being innocuous, reached the depths of noxiousness. Indeed half of the serious literature and fiction combined had a definite sex-appeal, at least for the sex-minded. Then came the radio. It put the popularization of “modernism”—of high-powered salesmanship, of stampeded personalities, of tooth-pastes, cigars, wristwatches, and other articles of domestic efficiency and smartness—in the same class as the selling of thousands of copies of books. Thus while we became sex-minded we also became money-minded.

Otto Kahn said: “He is a leader of young America in music in the same sense in which Lindbergh is the leader of young America in aviation, and in more than one respect has qualities similar to those of the young and attractive Colonel—qualities which we like to consider characteristic of the best type of young America. . ”40 For some, jazz seemed the perfect music for the Machine Age. 41 Yet another saw it as an escape therefrom. James Weldon Johnson wrote: When white America is not straining under the spur of the money-making urge it yields for relaxation to the spell of Negro song and dance.

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