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Reprint, Winter 1982

ISSUE:  Winter 1982

The late T. Harry Williams was an historian who first made his reputation as an authority on the Civil War (Lincoln and His Generals), but his magnum opus was a biography as huge and human as its subject— Huey Long, that colorful, controversial “Messiah of the Rednecks” (as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. called him) who dominated Depression Louisiana, the state where Williams was to spend most of his career as a professor at Louisiana State University. Published by Knopf in 1969, Huey Long subsequently was the winner of the National Book Award in history and biography and the Pulitzer Prize in biography. A paperback edition of what The New York Times hailed as a “masterpiece of American biography” has now been published by Vintage Books [$8.95]. Vintage has also republished a biography that Time magazine considered “required reading for everyone interested in this troubled century.” It is Ronald Steel’s Walter Lippmann and the American Century, a work which received both a National Book Critics Circle Award and the 1981 Bancroft Prize in American History [$7.95]. Another recent Vintage Book is H. L. Mencken’s A Choice of Days, an abridgment of the sage of Baltimore’s autobiographical works, Happy Days, Newspaper Days, and Heathen Days, with selections ranging from Mencken’s carefree childhood days in late 19th-century America to his years as the nation’s foremost iconoclast [$4.95]. Perhaps no biography in the English language is more famous than James Boswell’s Life of Johnson, that 18th-century classic about Samuel Johnson, whose love for London was equaled only by his passion for his native language. Boswell also wrote Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Johnson, it too recognized as a masterwork of English literature. Selections from both works were blended into a handsome one-volume cloth edition by Frank Morley, with superb full-page illustrations by E. H. Shephard (of Winnie the Pooh fame), and first published in 1930. A seventh edition was recently brought out in Great Britain by Bell & Hyman, and it is being distributed in this country by Ohio University Press [$24.95]. Another Ohio publisher, Kent State, is offering a paperback edition of Lucy Breckinridge of Grove Hill: The Journal of a Virginia Girl, 1862—1864, edited by Mary D. Robertson [$7.00]. Herman Melville was the subject of Leon Howard’s highly acclaimed biography, first published in 1951, which is now available in paperback from California [$7.95]. Out in a new edition from Columbia is Raymond Williams’ examination of the character and accomplishments of George Orwell [$15.00 cloth, $5.00 paper]. Harper/Colophon Books has reprinted Ross Terrill’s biography Mao, which Chinese scholar John Fairbanks called “a brilliant narrative interpretation . . . of China’s greatest revolutionary” [$6.95].


“A grand occasion in English literature,” The New York Times declared when The Stories of John Cheever appeared in 1978. A collection of 61 stories—arranged chronologically, covering the years 1947—1978— the book was a winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Vintage Books recently published a paperback edition of the work that critic Jonathan Yardley deemed to have a place “on the rather small shelf that houses the classics of American literature” [$7.95]. Vintage has also reissued editions of two volumes of short stories by a younger Cheever contemporary, John Updike. The volumes are, respectively, The Same Door, Updike’s first collection, which came out in 1959 [$4.95], and Museums and Women, which appeared in 1972 [also $4.95]. North Point Press is offering new editions of Evan S. Connell’s two-volume saga “of marriage, family, and middle age on the Plains of Protestantism,” as Webster Schott put it in a Life review, Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge [$7.50 each paper, $27.50 for cloth, boxed set]. As a new addition to its “Neglected Books of the 20th Century” series, Ecco Press has chosen Jean Stafford’s The Catherine Wheel, a novel first published in the early 1950’s which Harper’s magazine reviewer Charles Poore described as “a memorable ballad of betrayal” [$7.95 paper]. D. M. Thomas, a British author, captured American attention and acclaim last year with his novel, The White Hotel, involving Freud and a heroine of the Holocaust, so much so that Dutton has reprinted his first novel, The Flute Player, a story of artists struggling to survive in a chaotic capital city not unlike Moscow [$8.95 cloth], Dodd, Mead has published a paperback edition of black, 19th-century novelist Paul Dunbar’s The Sport of the Gods, a naturalistic narrative about a Southern black family moving north to New York in search of happiness and finding only humiliation after the father is falsely accused of theft [$5.95]. A collection of 200 Italian Folktales, selected and retold by Italo Calvino and unanimously chosen as one of The New York Time’s ten best books of 1980, is out as a Pantheon paperback [$9.95].


William Shawcross’s Sideshow became the main show on many book pages of America upon its original publication in 1979. Subtitled “Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia,” the book won the 1980 George Polk Award for investigative journalism, even though it was disputed and denounced by former Nixon officials, most notably by Kissinger himself. A new paperback edition of Sideshow has been released by Touchstone Books [$8.95], with two additions—a report from the author on his visit to Cambodia in 1980 and a rebuttal of Kissinger’s defense of U. S. Cambodian policy as told in his celebrated memoirs, The White House Years. Touchstone has also reprinted Charles Rembar’s The Law of the Land: The Evolution of Our Legal System, a book The Wall Street Journal said “should fascinate both lawyers and those who would throw up their hands at them” [$7.95]. A third Touchstone reprint is What to Do with the Rest of Your Life, “a career guide for women who want to plan, begin, change or advance in a promising career” prepared by editors of Catalyst, a pioneering, non-profit career guidance foundation for women [$9.95]. In The Age of Surveillance, Frank J. Donner traces “the aims and methods of America’s (domestic) political intelligence system” from World War I to Watergate, a survey now available as a Vintage Book [$7.95]. Woodrow Wilson’s Congressional Government was originally published in 1885 and was so well received as the first in-depth description of Congress and its potential threat to the balance of governmental powers that it was reprinted 15 times by 1900. It is again available as a Johns Hopkins paperback, with an introduction by Walter Lippmann and an afterword by Hopkins political scientist Robert L. Peabody [$5.95]. McGraw-Hill Paperbacks has republished Charles R. Morris’s The Cost of Good Intentions: New York City and the Liberal Experiment, 1960—1975, an examination of the civic aspirations that failed in the Big Apple during a period in which change shook every American city but none more than New York [$6.95]. Nebraska has brought out a paperback edition of Walter Prescott Webb’s The Great Plains, a work considered ever since its first publication in 1931 as a “classic description of the interaction between the vast central plains of America and the people who lived there” [$9.95].


“Nothing short of a masterpiece,” acclaimed critic Edward Said in his 1980 front-page New York Times book review of Ian Watt’s Conrad in the Nineteenth Century. A new edition has been issued by California [$15.95 cloth, $7.95 paper].


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