Edition: Penguin, 1964
Review number: 529
A collection of essays devoted to US politics in the period 1919-42, each choosing a pivotal person or event, The Aspirin Age succeeds in painting a clear picture of a time which still affects the world today. (One of the most trends which can be seen is the move from an isolationist stance towards the current interventionist, almost imperialist, attitude to foreign affairs - and this has continued to affect millions, from Korea to Iraq.) There is a companion volume, The Age of Anxiety, devoted to British affairs.
The book succeeds because of the quality of the writing and the interest of the subjects, which range from Amy Semple Macpherson to Huey Long, from Versailles to Pearl Harbour (there is just about one essay for each year). Most of the writers are journalists who were involved in the original reporting of the events that they are writing about, and they are often quite partisan, which increases the entertainment value. (The essays on Harding and Coolidge are particularly vitriolic.) Overall, though, the presentation is less one sided and more illuminating than that given by dos Passos' USA trilogy (which I was reading at more or less the same time).