The Twenties . . . the jazz Age . . . Flaming Youth . . . these labels evoke excitement and change, fabulous wealth and wild parties, the romance of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. They conjure up images of fashionable young men and women dancing the Charleston and drinking bathtub gin, living in the careless leisure of the moment. This was the decade when the young came into their own--when everyone wanted to be young.
But it was a decade of dramatic contrasts too. The liberal ideas of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud disturbed the moral and religious conservatism of many citizens; the peace after World War I was marred by racial prejudice; the "noble experiment" of Prohibition against the sale of alcoholic beverages, which began as a triumph for the reformers, led countless Americans to defy the law openly; and the economic boom turned into bust. Teens were both participants in and symbols of these struggles.
Although the peace following World War I was welcome, it was an uneasy one at best. America's hostile encounter with other nations had made many Americans even more leery of foreigners than before. At first they feared sabotage, especially by the Russian Bolsheviks, whose philosophy of revolution and abolition of private ownership ran exactly counter to American deals. With V. I. Lenin's triumph in Russia, his party firmly in power, and is efforts to create economic stability and greater prosperity for Russia's peasants gaining international attention, the voices of communism and an-