Timeline and Contexts

1931: Empire State Building completed

  • Cab Calloway’s orchestra replaces Duke Ellington’s at the Cotton Club
  • Ziegfield Follies closes
  • Al Capone indicted
  • Pair-o-Dice, the first Las Vegas casino, opens for business

1933: Repeal of Volstead Act ends prohibition

  • Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers appear in first of ten films.
  • Billie Holiday’s recording debut (at age 18, with Benny Goodman)
  • United States v. One Book Called Ulysses finds Joyce’s novel is not pornographic

1935: First night game in Major League Baseball

  • Penguin publishes first paperback (Andre Maurois’s Ariel)
  • United Auto Workers (UAW) forms and immediately organizes strikes
  • Monopoly introduced by Parker Brothers
  • Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

1937: The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

  • Joe Louis becomes heavy weight champion
  • The zipper gains ascendancy over the button in men’s pants as Lana Turner popularizes “the sweater girl” look
  • Minetta Tavern opens on MacDougal Street

1938: German annexation of Austria (the Anschluss)

  • Benny Goodman’s Carnegie Hall concert
  • Superman introduced in Action Comics #1 (followed by Batman a year later)
  • British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain confirms “Peace for our time”
  • Nausea by Jean Paul Sartre

1939: Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

  • First commercial transatlantic flight (by Pan Am)
  • Blue Note records established as Charlie Parker settles in NY
  • “The Wizard of Oz” starring Judy Garland
  • Einstein-Szilard letter alerting Roosevelt that Germans are working on an atom bomb
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New York Times Book Review

A Count Becomes a Waiter in a Novel of Soviet Supremacy

"Beyond the door of the luxurious ­Hotel Metropol lies Theater Square and the rest of Moscow, and beyond its city limits the tumultuous landscape of 20th-century Russia. The year 1922 is a good starting point for a Russian epic, but for the purposes of his sly and winning second ­novel, Amor Towles forgoes descriptions of icy roads and wintry dachas and instead retreats into the warm hotel lobby. The Metropol, with its customs and routines, is a world unto itself..."

You can read the full review here.

Washington Post Review

‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ is a charming reminder of what it means to be classy

September 19
How delightful that in an era as crude as ours this finely composed new novel by Amor Towles stretches out with old-World elegance. “A Gentleman in Moscow” offers a chance to sink back into a lost attitude of aristocracy — equal parts urbane and humane — just what we might expect from the author of that 2011 bestseller “Rules of Civility.” But if Towles’s story is an escape we crave, it is also, ironically, a story of imprisonment...
You can read the full review here.