Synopses & Reviews
"To an astonishing extent, the 1920s resemble our own era, at the turn of the twenty-first century; in many ways that decade was a precursor of modern excesses....Much of what we consider contemporary actually began in the Twenties."
-- from the Introduction
The images of the 1920s have been indelibly imprinted on the American imagination: jazz, bootleggers, flappers, talkies, the Model T Ford, Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh's history-making flight over the Atlantic.
But it was also the era of the hard-won vote for women, racial injustice, censorship, widespread social conflict, and the birth of organized crime. Bookended by the easy living of the Jazz Age, when the booze and money flowed seemingly without end, and the crash of '29 that led to breadlines and a level of human suffering not seen since World War I, New World Coming is a lively, entertaining, and all-encompassing chronological account of an age that defined America. Chronicling what he views as the most consequential decade of the past century, Nathan Miller -- an award-winning journalist and five-time Pulitzer nominee -- paints a vivid portrait of the 1920s, focusing on the men and women who shaped that extraordinary time, including, ironically, three of America's most conservative presidents: Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover.
In the Twenties, the American people soared higher and fell lower than they ever had before. As unprecedented economic prosperity and sweeping social change dazzled the public, the sensibilities and restrictions of the nineteenth century vanished, and many of the institutions, ideas, and preoccupations of our own age emerged. With scandal, sex, and crime the lifeblood of the tabloids, the contemporary culture of celebrity and sensationalism took root and journalism became popular entertainment. By discarding Victorian idealism and embracing twentieth-century skepticism, America became, for the first time, thoroughly modernized. There is hardly a dimension of our present world, from government to popular culture, that doesn't trace its roots to the 1920s, and few decades are more intriguing or significant today.
The first comprehensive view of the era since Only Yesterday, Frederick Lewis Allen's 1931 classic, New World Coming reveals this remarkable age from the vantage point of nearly a century later. It's all here -- the images and the icons, the celebrities and the legends -- in a book that will resonate with history readers, 1920s aficionados, and Americans everywhere.
"Miller's book is much more complex than a mere discussion of Fitzgerald or such related phenomena as the Lost Generation and the Jazz Age....[A]n excellent chronicle of that turbulent, troubled and tempestuous decade..." Publishers Weekly
"There is perhaps no more clearly definable decade in American history. Nathan Miller has done a fine job of getting it within the pages of a single book and making sense of it into the bargain." Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
"Even Miller's asides are gemlike....Spellbinding account of growing pains in an often-gullible society." Kirkus Reviews
"Considering this work's density of data and personalities from Klansmen to jazzmen to evangelists, Miller's structuring is notably skillful. A suave, entertaining survey." Gilbert Taylor, Booklist
"[A]n engagingly readable narrative history....Based on solid scholarship, Miller's book is an eminently readable history and an excellent addition for public and undergraduate collections." Library Journal
"[I]lluminating...Miller seamlessly blends politics and popular culture....You'd be hard-pressed to find a better guide to the 1920s." The Christian Science Monitor
"With vivid portraits, sparkling prose, and a zest for his subject, Nathan Miller has once again made a key era of America's past come to life. Presidents and anarchists, writers and jazzmen, celebrities and crooks, Klansmen and feminists, and many others all burst onto Miller's historical stage with stories that are fresh, nuanced, and compelling. This is history as it should be written." Gary Gerstle, author of American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century
"The 'forgotten 1920s' come alive in this enormously engaging story of the sparkling and diverse personalities who presided over that extraordinary decade, narrated by a journalist who is also a noted historian." James MacGregor Burns, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox and Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom
"A narrow slice of history deserving examination in depth is spotlighted by a writer whose style is as engaging as his research is impeccable. Fascinating reading!" Hugh Downs
"Nathan Miller's portrait of the 1920s is all-encompassing. Vast in breadth, unique in vivid detail, New World Coming is an entirely compelling story of a tantalizing era in American history." Phyllis Lee Levin, author of Edith and Woodrow
"Nathan Miller's anecdotes are so telling and his observations so shrewd that you begin to believe you are there with him in this rollicking account of a misunderstood decade that produced the greatest collection of characters, con men, and geniuses in American history." James M. Perry, author of Touched with Fire: Five Presidents and the Civil War Battles That Made Them
Includes bibliographical references (p. -412) and index.
About the Author
Nathan Miller is an award-winning journalist and the Pulitzer Prize-nominated author of twelve works of history and biography, including FDR: An Intimate History, Theodore Roosevelt: A Life, and War at Sea. He lives in Washington, D.C.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: "The Personal Instrument of God"
Chapter 2: "To the Red Dawn"
Chapter 3: "We're All Real Proud of Wurr'n"
Chapter 4: "Gee, How the Money Rolls In!"
Chapter 5: "My God, This Is a Hell of a Job!"
Chapter 6: "I Thought I Could Swing It"
Chapter 7: "My Country 'Tis of Me"
Chapter 8: "Coolidge or Chaos"
Chapter 9: "We Loved Every Rattle"
Chapter 10: "A Lost Generation"
Chapter 11: "Whooping It Up for Genesis"
Chapter 12: "Runnin' Wild"
Chapter 13: "Boy, Can You Get Stucco!"
Chapter 14: Seven Against the Wall
Chapter 15: "You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet!"
Chapter 16: "The Final Triumph over Poverty"
Chapter 17: "Wall Street Lays an Egg"