The years immediately preceding the 1929 stock-market crash were a remarkably productive period for Herbert Asbury. Born into a prominent Methodist family in Farmington, Missouri, in 1889, Asbury worked as a reporter for the Atlanta Georgian as well as the New York Sun and the Herald Tribune. In the mid-twenties, he began publishing books, starting with “Up from Methodism: A Memoir of a Man Gone to the Devil” (1926), which describes, “with a tongue in my cheek and a sneer in my heart,” his falling-out with the faith. Excerpted in H. L. Mencken’s The American Mercury, the book became a cause célèbre when the New England Watch and Ward Society banned the issue in which it appeared. Asbury’s book was a best-seller.