1920s

The Left Bank Gang by Jason

The Left Bank Gang by Jason

The Left Bank Gang opens with a dog shuffling down the streets of 1920's Paris, keeping mostly to himself. He ignores a panhandler, but then sees another dog that he recognizes. They shake hands. One dog's name is Ezra Pound. The other's is Ernest Hemingway.

Gang is a clever nugget of alternate history fiction. Rather than focusing on complex geopolitical questions like "What if the Germans won World War II?"  Norwegian cartoonist Jason turns to the zeitgeist of expatriate writers such as Pound, Fitzgerald, Joyce, and Hemingway. His hypothesis is "What if all of these starving geniuses just got fed up and turned to crime?"

Young Woman and the Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Inspired the World

By Glenn Stout

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In 1926, a plucky American teenager named Trudy Ederle captured the imagination of the world when she became the first woman to swim the English Channel. Stout offers the dramatic and inspiring story of Ederle's pursuit of a goal no one believed possible, and the price she paid.

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Arna Bontemps Left a Rich Literary Legacy

A Solid Beginning

Arnaud “Arna” Wendell Bontemps was born on October 13, 1902, in Alexanderia, Louisiana, a child of middle class parents of mixed racial heritage--what is sometimes called Creole. His father, Paul Bismark Bontemps, was descended from French plantation owners living in Haiti and their slaves. After coming to the United States, the Bontemps family lived free in Louisiana for decades, and the many of the men worked as skilled brick and stone masons for generations.  In addition to working his trade, Arna’s father also played music with a popular band. Arna’s mother, Maria (pronounced Ma-rye-ah) Carolina Pembrooke was descended from an English planter and his Cherokee wife. Maria taught public school and enjoyed creating visual art.

Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America

By John M. Barry

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"In 1927, the Mississippi swept across an area roughly equal in size to Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont combined, leaving water as deep as thirty feet.... Close to a million people ... were forced out of their homes. Rising Tide is the story of this forgotten event. Rising Tide is an American epic about science, race, honor, politics, and society."

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Aaron Copland: The Life and Work of an Uncommon Man

By Howard Pollack

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"A candid and fascinating portrait of the American composer. The son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Aaron Copland (1900-1990) became one of America's most beloved and esteemed composers. His work, which includes Fanfare for the Common Man, A Lincoln Portrait, and Appalachian Spring, has been honored by a huge following of devoted listeners. But the full richness of Copland's life and accomplishments has never, until now, been documented or understood. Howard Pollack's meticulously researched and engrossing biography explores the symphony of Copland's life..."

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Jazz: A History of America's Music

By Geoffrey C. Ward

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This book, written with Ken Burns, accompanies the PBS TV series of the same name. It traces the evolution of jazz from its birth in New Orleans through big band, swing, bebop, fusion, acid, and avant-garde. Covered also are the well-known and the not-so-known musicians of jazz - black and white. The photographs that accompany the text are fascinating.

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Black and White Sat Down Together: The Reminiscences of an NAACP Founder

By Mary White Ovington

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In 1909, Ovington, W.E.B. Du Bois and 50 others founded the NAACP. This memoir chronicles her life, the politics of her era, the prejudice that civil rights workers faced, and what drew her - a white woman - to the struggle.

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Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age

By Kevin Boyle

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A young man from the South moves to Detroit and finds the land of honey, but also runs into the Klan of the '20s, and he is indicted for murder. A fascinating true story.

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Once There Was a Farm: A Country Childhood Remembered

By Virginia Bell Dabney

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"It was an unusual household: the mother and three daughters lived on a ramshackle farm in western Virginia while the father stayed in Chicago, visiting his family during summer vacations and at Christmas. Virginia (Vallie), much younger than her sisters, never felt comfortable with her father. Playmates were a rarity, but she found rewards in the company of farm animals and the three black people who were hired help. Vallie's attempt at self-baptism and the cook's reaction makes an endearing story."
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Folly du Jour

The streets of 1920s Paris are teeming with tourists and tramps, fine artists and con artists. Also killers. Knife fights at cafés and corpses floating along the Seine are all part of the daily parade. But now something newly wicked is in the air—murder with style. A day at the Louvre might reveal a fresh body among the dusty corpses of Egyptian nobles. Josephine Baker’s dazzling performance at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées could be the scene of an unexpectedly dramatic tragedy. Passionate Paris is indeed a perilous place in Barbara Cleverly’s recent mystery, Folly du Jour.