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Reprint, Spring 1980

ISSUE:  Spring 1980

The Harvard Guide to American History, edited by Frank Freidel, with the assistance of Richard K. Showman, runs the gamut of our past from abolitionists to the Yuma Indians, from Benjamin Aaron to Frederick Zwierlein. Not surprisingly, this diverse compendium of U. S. history has been called an “incomparable, indispensable reference work” which “anyone interested in this nation’s past will, of necessity, eventually turn to. . . .” That eventuality has been rendered easier by the publication by Harvard of a new one-volume edition [$45.00 cloth, $12.50 paper]. American historians have been and are, of course, a mixture of many traits, traditions, and talents, but those who hew to the socalled “progressive” tradition follow in the footsteps of three notable scholars—Frederick Jackson Turner, Charles A. Beard, and V. L. Parrington—themselves the subject of a book by another distinguished scholar, the late Richard Hofstadter. First published in 1968, Hofstadter’s The Progressive Historians: Turner, Beard, Parrington has now been reissued in paperback by Chicago [$7.95]. Shortly after Chicago published the original edition, The New Yorker commented, “This history of historians is a brilliant exploration into the nature of history as a discipline, and into the nature of the American past and its meaning for the present.” One example of how the past can have relevance for the present involves the issue of presidential power, an issue much debated in recent years. An earlier instance of that issue is Maeva Marcus’s account of President Truman’s seizure of the strike-threatened steel industry in April 1952, a seizure subsequently ruled unconstitutional by the U. S. Supreme Court. Entitled Truman and the Steel Set zure Case: The Limits of Presidential Power, the Marcus study is now available in paperback from Columbia [$7.00]. The South is the subject of two recent editions of books published by Louisiana. The first, in cloth, is John D.Winters’ The Civil War in Louisiana, a comprehensive history of the conflict between Blue and Gray in the Cajun state [$24.00]. The second involves a more recent controversy, one of the 20th century’s most celebrated civil rights cases—the notable and/or notorious trial of the Scottsboro boys on a rape charge in Depression-ridden Alabama. A definitive history of that case is contained in the revised edition of Dan T.Carter’s Scottsboro: A Tragedy of the American South [$24.95 cloth, $6.95 paper]. Among contemporary stylists, E. B. White has few peers, as can be seen in the Perennial Library edition of The Points of My Compass: Letters From the East, the West, the North, the South [$2.95 paperback]. A fellow New Yorker writer, Jane Kramer, traveled to that point of the compass known as Texas to produce a profile of a vanishing breed as represented by Henry Blanton, The Last Cowboy, which Pocket Books has now reprinted [$1.95]. Vintage Books is offering a paperback edition of a third New Yorker writer’s work, namely, Calvin Trillin’s American Fried: Adventures of a Happy Eater, which Rolling Stone described as “marvelously funny and horrifyingly mouthwatering” [$1.95].


California in collaboration with the Iowa Institute for Textual Studies has been publishing a continuing and handsome cloth series of “The Works of Mark Twain.” The Iowa-California editions offer, according to a blurb accompanying each volume, “for the first time . . . Twain’s books as he intended them to be read: free of alterations imposed by heavyhanded editors, printers, and proofreaders.” The latest volumes—Volumes 6, 9, and 15, respectively—are The Prince and the Pauper [$25.00], A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court [$32.50], and Early Tales and Sketches, Volume 1, 1851—1864 [$37.50], Another popular 19th-century writer, Charles Dickens, is represented in a new cloth edition of Little Dorrit, published by Oxford, edited by Harry Peter Sucksmith, and the fourth of Dickens’ full-length novels to appear in the Clarendon Edition [$69.00]. A modern writer whom posterity may accord the same recognition bestowed on Twain and Dickens is the Latin American short story author and novelist Gabriel García M´rquez. Harper Colophon Books recently reprinted three volumes of García Márquez’s short stories. They are, respectively, Leaf Storm, Innocent Eréndira, and No One Writes to the Colonel [$3.50 each], James Hilton is best known for such romantic novels as Lost Horizons and Goodbye, Mr. Chips, but he also published a detective novel in 1931 that some mystery buffs now regard as a classic of the genre. The novel, Was It Murder? (English title, Murder at School), like Chips, takes place in an English public school, and Dover has now published a paperback edition [$3.00]. Mary Renault’s novel of ancient Greece, The Praise Singer, is available in a Bantam Books edition [$2.95], as is Philippe van Rjndt’s The Trial of Adolf Hitler [$2.50]. Bantam has also issued a new edition of West Coast Fiction, edited and with an introduction by James D. Houston [$2.95], Atheneum has published a one-volume, cloth edition of four of Frederick Buechner’s novels, with a new introduction by the author, under the general title, The Book of Bebb. The four novels therein are Lion Country, Open Heart, Love Feast, and Treasure Hunt [$14.95].


Michael Holroyd’s massive and masterful Lytton Strachey: A Biography might have pleased the author of Eminent Victorians and Queen Victoria himself. It certainly pleased the critics at the time of its publication in the late 1960’s. C. P. Snow, for example, felt “certain that this is one of the great biographies of our time,” and a New York Times critic acclaimed the work as “the best literary biography to appear for many years.” Holt, Rinehart & Winston has produced a paperback edition of Holroyd’s work whose text runs to 1,078 pages [$8.95]. Best known as a prolific historian, A. L. Rowse published in 1942 a memorable account of his boyhood that has since become one of his most popular books. Called A Cornish Childhood, the book is again available in a Clarkson N. Potter cloth edition [$10.00]. Chicago has published a paperback edition of Leslie A. Marchand’s Byron: A Portrait, a one-volume condensation and revision of his three-volume 1957 biography of the British poet [$7.95]. The life of Thomas Alva Edison, the man who turned the lights on all over the world, is recounted in Robert Conot’s A Streak of Luck, a recent Bantam Book [$3.95], while Mary Renault’s acclaimed biography of Alexander the Great, The Nature of Alexander, is a Pantheon paperback [$2.95]. A recent Holt paperback is Robert Peel’s Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Authority, 1892—1910, the third and concluding volume of a biography of the Christian Scientist [$7.95].


Two recent Chicago paperbacks are Arthur Heiserman’s The Novel Before the Novel: Essays and Discussions About the Beginnings of Prose Fiction in the West [$7.00] and a third edition of The Poems of St. John of the Cross, translated by John Frederick Nims [$3.95]. California has brought out a paperback edition of Hugh Kenner’s Joyce’s Voices, a study of the stylistic variations of Ulysses [$2.95]. Barnes & Noble is offering a new edition of Kenneth Muir’s Shakespeare’s Tragic Sequence, originally published in 1972 [$27.50 cloth, $11.95 paper]. Cambridge has paperback editions of Robert W. Malcolmson’s Popular Recreations in English Society 1700—1850 [$8.95] and C. S. Lewis’ Studies in Medieval & Renaissance Literature [$6.95].


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