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Flapper
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About the Author

Joshua Zeitz has taught American history and politics at Cambridge University, Harvard University, and Princeton University. He is the author of several books on American political and social history and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, the New Republic, The Atlantic, Dissent, and American Heritage. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Hoboken, New Jersey.

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Zeitz (American history, Univ. of Cambridge) combines previous scholarship and primary sources to study the cultural history of American women in the 1920s. The title of the book is somewhat misleading as it is not about "flappers" so much as the people who helped create and promote the image of the flapper, that young woman with bobbed hair and cloche hat who was fond of cigarettes, jazz, the Charleston, and skimpy dresses. Zeitz examines the roles played by writer F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, fashion designer Coco Chanel, various advertising specialists, and film actresses Clara Bow and Louise Brooks in developing and promoting the image of the modern American woman who was embodied by the flapper. Zeitz expands on the scholarship about women as consumers just after the 1920s that was previously undertaken by Frederick Lewis Allen in Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s and Kathy Peiss in Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York. This enjoyable and readable book has a target audience of the general public and undergraduates and is recommended for both.-Diane Fulkerson, Univ. of West Georgia Lib., Carrollton Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

This is an entertaining, well-researched and charmingly illustrated dissection of the 1920s flapper, who flouted conventions and epitomized the naughtiness of the Jazz Age as she "bobbed her hair, smoked cigarettes, drank gin, sported short skirts, and passed her evenings in steamy jazz clubs." Cambridge historian Zeitz identifies F. Scott Fitzgerald as "the premier analyst," and his muse and wife, Zelda, "the prototype" of the American flapper. Others who invented aspects of the flapper mystique were New Yorker writer Lois Long, who gave readers a vicarious peek into the humorous late-night adventures of the New Woman; designer Coco Chanel, whose androgynous fashions redefined feminine sexuality as they blurred the line between men's and women's roles in society; fashion artist Gordon Conway, whose willowy and aloof flappers were seen by millions of American and European magazine readers; and Clara Bow, who breathed life into the flapper on the silver screen. The Klan, Zeitz relates, denounced flappers as evils of the modern age, and advertisers exploited the social anxieties of would-be flappers by appealing to the conformist at the heart of this controversial figure. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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