After a sketch of the U.S. in the two-preceding decades, the American twenties are anatomized: the philistines and rebels promised in the title, their surroundings, the ""strenuous complacency"" of private lives, the ""tainted"" character of public life. The author gives much attention to the political economy of the era. LaGuardia, Al Smith and even Debs come off favorably from her welfare-liberal point of view; not so the passive, business-servant administrations of Harding and Coolidge, their neglect of poor miners and farmers, and the ""theology of isolation"" from international affairs. She does not attempt to trace basic casual relations among these phenomena. The book also lacks surface coherence: it moves chronologically, but jumps too hard and fast--from the Castonia strike to Faulkner, Middletown to Dwight Morrow, leaving the reader with little energy for the intermittent cultural tours. The author is overfond of marinating her historical salad in social-psychological generalizations. More vinegar, less oil than Only Yesterday--also more nutritious, for despite its flaws, this is a substantial, very well-written book.