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Everything You Know About the 20th Century is Wrong

At the PJ Lifestyle blog, James Lileks explores the culture and atmosphere of the 1920s, to explain why it's such a little-understood decade. Beyond the sights and smells of the era, with the conclusion of The Great War, there was a sense that if it wasn't The End of History (as Francis Fukuyama believed the end of the Cold War ushered in), there was a utopian belief that it was The End of War at least, as Neo-Neocon writes on her blog:

The 20s meant nothing to me except flapper clothing, the Charleston, and the Crash. But my mother—who had been six years old at the decade’s beginning, and a high school graduate of sixteen at its end—told me something about those years that had stuck in her memory. It subsequently stuck in mine.

“The adults told us we were the luckiest generation in history, that we should thank our lucky stars because we’d never know war,” said this member of the Greatest Generation, who was to see the Great Depression and World War II in short order.

What had motivated her elders to tell my mother and her classmates that? Why, the Kellogg-Briand Pact had been signed in 1928, when she was fourteen:

The Kellogg–Briand Pact (officially the Pact of Paris) was a 1928 international agreement in which signatory states promised not to use war to resolve “disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them”. Parties failing to abide by this promise “should be denied the benefits furnished by this treaty”. It was signed by Germany, France and the United States on August 27, 1928, and by most other nations soon after. Sponsored by France and the U.S., the Pact renounced the use of war and called for the peaceful settlement of disputes.

Needless to say, as Neo writes, "It should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone here that the pact didn’t quite work the way it was supposed to."

But beyond the 1920s, two of the biggest stories of the 1960s are also being revised. First up, the Wall Street Journal notes that "Capote Classic 'In Cold Blood' Tainted by Long-Lost Files:"

Truman Capote's masterwork of murder, "In Cold Blood," cemented two reputations when first published almost five decades ago: his own, as a literary innovator, and detective Alvin Dewey Jr.'s as the most famous Kansas lawman since Wyatt Earp.

But new evidence undermines Mr. Capote's claim that his best seller was an "immaculately factual" recounting of the bloody slaughter of the Clutter family in their Kansas farmhouse. It also calls into question the image of Mr. Dewey as the brilliant, haunted hero.