The Roaring Twenties
It is a century ago that World War I swept across the European continent, a massacre of hitherto unheard-of scope and savagery. In the ensuing years, Europe licked its wounds, commemorated its dead and reflected on the events of the war. The industrial revolution, which had offered the promise of prosperity, had instead become the engine for weapon production and implementation, one whose ethical ramifications no one could have predicted.
The United States of America, still a young nation, suffered relatively little. While the country had indeed played a key military role in the war, sacrificing many young American lives, the battlefield was still thousands of miles from home. The economy did not suffer – on the contrary, the US weapons industry had made a substantial contribution and reaped the profits. American households were suddenly afforded luxuries until then they had only dreamt of: automobiles, radios, the first washing machines! Dance halls and cinemas offered entertainment outside the home, and the airwaves were filled with jazz. The ‘Roaring Twenties’ were about to unfold. These developments influenced society as well: racial segregation, still common in many states, was challenged, and women made headway in gaining the right to vote. Newfangled clothes and hairstyles (the ‘bob’, a blunt cut reaching the chin) were popular with women, and dances became more individual and free. Men, to balance the picture, were expected to wear a moustache or beard.