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Reprint, Spring 1987

ISSUE:  Spring 1987

Even though Edmund Wilson considered much of the literature produced by the Civil War as so much Patriotic Gore, the most terrible and tragic conflict in the nation’s history still exerts its power on the American mind. Witness, for example, the republication of two classic accounts of the clash between the Blue and the Gray. The first is by a novelist, the second by a journalist and historian. The novelist Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: A Narrative, a three-volume work that took two decades to complete, has been ranked with the histories produced by Thucydides and Gibbon respectively. Writing in the Southern Review, scholar James M. Cox had this to say about Foote’s three volumes: “To read this great narrative is to love the nation—to love it through the living knowledge of its mortal division.” Vintage Books has published the new edition of The Civil War, the three volumes respectively being Fort Sumter to Perryville, Fredericksburg to Meridian, and Red River to Appomattox [$15.95 each volume]. The journalist and historian was Richmond News Leader editor Douglas Southall Freeman, author of R. E. Lee, a four-volume biography published in the 1930’s that still stands as the definitive account of the commander of the army of Northern Virginia’s life. The prolific Freeman later produced a three-volume multiple biography entitled Lee’s Lieutenants: A Study in Command. A new paper edition of Lee’s Lieutenants, which first appeared between 1942 and 1944, was recently issued by the original publisher Scribner’s. In the first volume, Manassas to Malvern Hill, Dr. Freeman describes the rise and fall of General Beauregard and the emergence of Stonewall Jackson. The second volume, Cedar Mountain to Chancellorsville, is an account of the glory days of Lee’s army, which ended with the death of Jackson at Chancellorsville in 1863. The third volume, Gettysburg to Appomattox, recounts the decline of Southern military might and finally Lee’s formal surrender to Grant in 1865 [$16.95 each volume]. The last days of the war are also covered in William A. Frassanito’s Grant and Lee: The Virginia Campaigns, 1864—1865. Frassanito has reproduced photographs taken at the time, together with photos of battle areas as they look today, with an accompanying text. For example, he reproduced three photographs taken behind the Union front lines at Cold Harbor and then shows the same area as it looks today. The publisher of this new edition is also Scribner’s [$13.95]. “It will resurrect your faith in all of us to read this book” said Newsweek of Studs Terkel’s Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression. Pantheon Books has come out with a paper edition of Terkel’s account, with a new introduction by the author [$6.95]. Also available in paper from Pantheon is Gabriel Kolko’s Anatomy of A War: Vietnam, the United States, and the Modern Historical Experience, which the Christian Science Monitor deemed “one of the best written general histories of this conflict yet published” [$12.95]. A third Pantheon reprint, also in paper, is Paul Boyer’s By the Bomb’s Early Light: American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age [$11.95]. In 1958 Harper & Row published Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, the Baptist minister’s account of an incident that began as a bus strike, ended as a Supreme Court decision, and began making his name a household word in America. The account is now available as a Perennial Library book [$8.95]. Touchstone Books has reprinted Gloria Emerson’s Some American Men: On Their Lives in which award-winning journalist Emerson describes the frustrations, joys, dreams, loves, lies, and secrets of a crosssection of male America [$8.95]. Also available as a Touchstone Book is Marvin Harris’s Why Nothing Works: The Anthropology of Daily Life, a book about (according to the Introduction) “cults, crime, and shoddy goods, and the shrinking dollar” originally published as America Now [$7.95]. Vintage Books has a new edition of James MacGregor Burns’ The American Experiment: The Workshop of Democracy from the Emancipation Proclamation to the Era of the New Deal. This is the second volume in Burns’ projected three-volume history of America [$12.95]. Another Vintage offering is Robert J. Norrell’s Reaping the Whirlwind: The Civil Rights Movement in Tuskegee, winner of the 1986 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award [$9.95]. Nebraska’s Bison Books series has a new edition of George R. Stewart’s Ordeal by Hunger: The Story of the Donner Party, the true story of the Donner party, a wagon train that got trapped in the California Sierras in the late 1840’s, resulting in both cannibalism and heroism [$7.95], Two other recent Bison Books are respectively Francis Paul Prucha’s The Sword of the Republic: The United States Army on the Frontier, 1783—1846 [$12.95] and The Custer Myth: A Source Book of Custeriana, written and compiled by W.A. Graham, with a comprehensive bibliography by Fred Dustin [$14.95],


Philosopher, poet, critic, and Harvard professor, George Santayana (1863—1952) was one of the giants of American culture. To perpetuate his literary and scholastic accomplishments, MIT Press has inaugurated a new, definitive edition of Santayana’s works, beginning with publication of the Critical Edition of Persons and Places, the first unexpurgated version of his autobiography, edited by William C. Holzberger of Bucknell University and Herman J. Saatkamp, Jr. of Texas A&M University. This edition of Persons and Places is substantially different from any previously published versions. It restores 718 marginal headings and significant passages that have been omitted in the past, including lengthy sections on Spinoza, John Russell, Lionel Johnson, and members of Santayana’s American family. All of this material was a part of Santayana’s manuscript and was deleted from earlier publications for a variety of reasons, one being his wish that portions be published only after his death. This edition [$35.00 cloth] is the first of 19 volumes planned in all. When Robert Blake’s Disraeli was first published in 1966, fellow British historian A.J.P. Taylor, writing in the New Statesman, declared: “Blake’s book is a solid achievement of the first order. It is a fine piece of scholarship and also . . .a delight to read.” This biography of one of the giants of Victorian England was recently reprinted in a paper edition by Carroll & Graf [$14.50]. Another political titan is the subject of Ted Morgan’s FDR: A Biography, a one-volume life of the President who probably did more than any other American in the 20th century to shape the destiny of America. The Washington Post called Morgan’s book “a marvelously readable biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt. . .packed with facts and insights—and with quotes . . .and gossip,” and a new edition is available as a Touchstone Book [$12.95]. Posiedon Press has come out with a paper edition of J.R. Ackerley’s My Dog Tulip, a memoir published some three decades ago by the literary editor of The Listener about his happy 16-year relationship with an Alsatian bitch. Punch called Ackerley’s memoir “the first highbrow dog book ever written” [$7.95]. Frederic Mistral (1830—1914) is considered the greatest modern poet of Provence. In 1906, at the age of 76, Mistral published his charming book of Memoirs, which is not so much an autobiography as a recollection of the life of ordinary country people in his early years. These Memoirs have been translated by George Wickes and published in a new edition under the title The Memoirs of Frederic Mistral by New Directions [$22.95 cloth]. A recent edition to Harper & Row’s Perennial Library series is former Time editor Hedley Donovan’s Roosevelt to Reagan: A Reporter’s Encounters with Nine Presidents, ranging from FDR to the present incumbent [$8.95].


William Carlos Williams is considered one of the most prominent 20th century American poets. Williams (1883—1963), a practicing physician in Rutherford, New Jersey for many years, was also one of this country’s most productive poets. So that readers can more fully understand Williams’ work, New Directions is reissuing all of his published poetry, excluding Paterson, in a definitive two-volume edition. The first volume of The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams covering the years 1909—1939 is now available [$35.00 cloth]. The two-volume edition of Williams’ poems is being edited by A. Walton Litz of Princeton University, and Christopher MacGowan of the College of William and Mary. Penguin Books is offering new editions of two works by another well-known 20th-century American poet, namely John Ashbery. The respective editions are Selected Poems, a collection of 138 poems chosen by Ashbery himself [$9.95], and Three Poems, a trilogy of “poems in prose” first published in 1972 [$7.95]. Collier Books has issued a third edition of William Butler Yeats: Selected Poems and Three Plays, edited and with an introduction by M.L. Rosenthal, which first appeared in 1962. The new revised edition has been expanded to include 211 poems and to make use of the scholarship of the past quarter-century [$10.95]. A new edition of Calvin Bedient’s In the Heart’s Last Kingdom: Robert Penn Warren’s Major Poetry is now available in a paper edition from Harvard [$7.95], One of Warren’s contemporaries is poet Stanley Kunitz, who was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1905. Eighty years later, in 1985, Kunitz published Next-to-Last Things: New Poems and Essays, and a new paper edition has been published by the Atlantic Monthly Press [$8. 95]. The latest additions to Cornell’s “Masters of Latin Literature” series are three tragedies by Seneca, translated and with introductions by Frederick Ahl. The three tragedies are respectively Trojan Women, Medea, and Phaedra [each $5.95 paper, also available in a one-volume cloth edition, $39.50], An enlarged and revised edition of Edouard Roditi’s Oscar Wilde, originally published in 1947, has been reissued as a New Directions Paper Book. The new edition contains three new chapters touching on new material about Wilde, as well as the new public attitudes about homosexuality that have evolved since the original publication [$10.95]. Collier Books has reprinted Wallace Gray’s Homer to Joyce: Interpretations of the Classic Works of Western Literature, with a foreword by Steven Marcus, a collection of interpretations of the great works of Western literature beginning with the Iliad and the Odyssey and ending with Ulysses [$9.95 paper].


Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur is one of the best-known and most influential works of 15th-century English literature, with its descendants ranging from Tennyson’s Idylls of the King to the musical Camelot. A new one-volume edition of this epic about King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table has been edited by R. M. Lumiansky, a distinguished medievalist who has modernized the text. Collier Books has published this latest account of a classic medieval legend [$12.95 paper]. Another medieval masterpiece is Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron, 100 tales told by seven young women and three young men of Florence during the Plague of 1348. Boccaccio’s classic was translated from the Italian by the 19th century man of letters John Payne, and a new edition of Payne’s translation has been prepared by Charles S. Singleton, and published in one volume by California [$25.00 paper].


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