I've always been intrigued by flappers and the 1920s in general, but I admit to not knowing terribly much about the details of the time. However, I walk away from Flapper: A Madcap Story feeling as though I am not that much more enlightened. Yes, I know some irrelevant details about some players in the era but I don't know if I ever truly felt a connection to the time. In large part I blame this on the author's style of writing and the disjointed organization of the book. I found myself repeatedly annoyed due to the author going off on tangents that seemed to barely be relevant to the topic at hand. Overall I felt as though the book was in essence shallow despite the information it included.
Zeitz seems to have a fixation for certain people of the time, people he idealized despite including negatives about them. For one, there is F. Scott Fitzgerald and his eventual wife Zelda Sayre. Entirely too much of the book is devoted to "following" these two in their lunacy and I gained little from it. I never liked the Great Gatsby despite all the hype and now I can confidently say I probably would not have liked F. Scott Fitzgerald the man either. He also chronicles a few particular other characters of the era, all the while going off on many tangents, and nothing sticks in my mind as overly intriguing. Zeitz instilled no life into these individuals he chronicled.
Zeitz included pages of useless information, often on a person's background only to make a simple point. He likes to list a number of individuals to prove a point, but never elucidates us as to whom most of these people were. Zeitz also had a habit of stating "however" or "but" etc. but never actually provided information to truly rebut what was said/thought previously. This was quite aggravating. Zeitz also felt the need to tie in current day events with 1920s events or atmosphere and it just succeeded in producing further tangents and eye rolling at his attempts.
And finally, Zeitz seems to take a flippant stance on the death of some individuals he chronicles. One instance that really sticks out in my mind is that of Olive Thomas and how her death allowed another actress to come into roles. He is speaking of how Thomas accidentally (or purposefully, no one knows) took mercury rather than cold medicine and died. To which he says "Either way, Olive Thomas was out of the picture." And that was that. He speaks flippantly about other issues of the time as well and it simply rubbed me the wrong way each time.