Robert Lowell, with Elizabeth Bishop, stands apart as the greatest American poet of the latter half of the twentieth century―and Life Studies and For the Union Dead stand as among his most important volumes. In Life Studies, which was first published in 1959, Lowell moved away from the formality of his earlier poems and started writing in a more confessional vein. The title poem of For the Union Deadconcerns the death of the Civil War hero (and Lowell ancestor) Robert Gould Shaw, but it also largely centers on the contrast between Boston’s idealistic past and its debased present at the time of its writing, in the early 1960’s. Throughout, Lowell addresses contemporaneous subjects in a voice and style that themselves push beyond the accepted forms and constraints of the time.
At the helm of America’s most influential literary magazine for more than half a century, Harold Ross introduced the country to a host of exciting talent, including Robert Benchley, Alexander Woolcott, Ogden Nash, Peter Arno, Charles Addams, and Dorothy Parker. But no one could have written about this irascible, eccentric genius more affectionately or more critically than James Thurber — an American icon in his own right — whose portrait of Ross captures not only a complex literary giant but a historic friendship and a glorious era as well. “If you get Ross down on paper,” warned Wolcott Gibbs to Thurber, “nobody will ever believe it.” But readers of this unforgettable memoir will find that they do.
In the 1950s Elizabeth Marshall Thomas became one of the first Westerners to live with the Bushmen of the Kalahari desert in Botswana and South-West Africa. Her account of these nomadic hunter-gatherers, whose way of life had remained unchanged for thousands of years, is a ground-breaking work of anthropology, remarkable not only for its scholarship but for its novelistic grasp of character. On the basis of field trips in the 1980s, Thomas has now updated her book to show what happened to the Bushmen as the tide of industrial civilization — with its flotsam of property rights, wage labor, and alcohol — swept over them. The result is a powerful, elegiac look at an endangered culture as well as a provocative critique of our own.
The Coming of the New Deal, 1933-1935, volume two of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and biographer Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.’s Age of Roosevelt series, describes Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first tumultuous years in the White House. Coming into office at the bottom of the Great Depression, FDR told the American people that they have nothing to fear but fear itself. The conventional wisdom having failed, he tried unorthodox remedies to avert economic collapse. His first hundred days restored national morale, and his New Dealers filled Washington with new approaches to recovery and reform. Combining idealistic ends with realistic means, Roosevelt proposed to humanize, redeem, and rescue capitalism. The Coming of the New Deal, written with Schlesinger’s customary verve, is a gripping account of critical years in the history of the republic.
An explosive exploration of class behavior in America and the hidden barriers that affect you, your community, and your future
In a time when battles were still fought on the ground, between men who could see their enemies with their own eyes, a wildly assorted band of soldiers volunteer for “a dangerous and hazardous mission.” Their exploits ended up touching the imagination of the American people and their fate led to a Congressional inquiry.
Three battalions of American infantrymen marched and fought across six hundred miles of northern Burma to drive the Japanese from an area the size of Connecticut and achieve fame as Merrill’s Marauders. Theirs was a victory over determined and resourceful enemies: over what Churchill called “the most forbidding fighting country imaginable”-over malaria, dysentery, and typhus: and over mismanagement from above. In the end, these men won both an extraordinary victory and an enduring place in American legend.
Charlton Ogburn, Jr.’s extensive research coupled with his own experience as a Marauder and an engrossing writing style make for a dramatic and moving narrative. This is jungle combat at its most real, its most adrenaline-pumping, and its most terrifying.