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Reprint, Winter 1988

ISSUE:  Winter 1988

Between 1935 and 1943, thousands of writers were employed by the Federal Writers’ Project to create a vibrant and vivid portrait of American life. The writers included John Cheever, Studs Terkel, Saul Bellow, and Ralph Ellison, and they put together a series of automobile travel books known as the American Guide Series, which have since become classics. Now, more than 50 years after the inception of the Federal Writers’ Project, editor Archie Hobson has compiled a gathering of more than 500 memorable passages of folklore, local history, social commentary, and humor culled from the original state and city Guides. Entitled Remembering America: A Sampler of the WPA American Guide Series, this book is now available in paperback for the first time as a Collier Books publication [$11.95]. Vintage Books has published a new edition of Michael Kammen’s A Machine That Would Go Of Itself: The Constitution in American Culture, the first cultural history of the Constitution by a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian [$9.95], Atheneum has come out with a paper edition of Lois Gordon and Alan Gordon’s American Chronicle, a year-by-year recreation of all aspects of American life between 1920 and 1980, including events in theater, art, dance, sports, and fashion, as well as more than 350 photographs [$16.95]. Even as Bob Woodward creates new controversy with his latest book Veil, a muckraking account of the CIA under William Casey, Touchstone Books is reorfering two of Woodward’s earlier works, those in which he collaborated with fellow Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein to chronicle the downfall of the Nixon administration in the Watergate scandal. The first book is All the President’s Men, a devastating political detective story of how two then-unknown reporters put together the pieces in the Watergate puzzle, even as Nixon was riding to a sweeping triumph in the 1972 Presidential election [$6.95]. The second Woodward/Bernstein reprint is The Final Days, a moment-by-moment, behind-the-scenes account of Nixon’s last days in the White House before he became the first president to resign from office [$7.95]. The Nixon administration is also the subject of another recent Touchstone Book, namely William Shawcross’s Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia, a work which won the 1980 George Polk Book Award and the 1979 Sidney Hillman Foundation Prize Award. The new edition has been revised, with new introduction by the author. The New Yorker deemed Shawcross’s account of America’s illegal bombing of Cambodia as “a first-rate account of the Nixon administration’s underhanded doings in that Southeast Asian country [$12.95]. The MIT Press has published a paperback edition of Nicholas H. Steneck’s The Microwave Debate, in which the author examines the still unresolved debate involving government, the public, and industry over the safety and use of microwaves and radio-frequency radiation [$9.95], Another recent MIT Press paperback is Military Enterprise and Technological Change: Perspectives on the American Experience, a collection of essays edited by Merritt Roe Smith, suggesting that the U.S. military enterprise has been a mixed economic and human blessing [$9.95]. A new Fireside Book is Richard Whittingham’s What a Game They Played: An Inside Look at the Golden Era of Pro Football in which such football legends as Red Grange, Sid Luckman and Sammy Baugh talk about their early days in the National Football League [$7.95]. Harvard has published a new edition of Robert A. Ferguson’s Law and Letters in American Culture, a study of the synthesis of law and literature from late colonial days to the Civil War, which won the Law and Society Association’s J. Willard Hurst Prize in American Legal History [$25.00 cloth, $10.95 paper]. Yale now has a paper edition of Helen A. Cooper’s Winslow Homer Watercolors, the first major survey of Homer’s watercolors, which are considered by many to rank among the greatest achievements in American art [$19.95], A new Bison Book is David Lavender’s California: Land of New Beginnings, a history of that state from the earliest Spanish explorations in the late 1500’s through the present, with an afterword by the author [$29.95 paper, $11.95 cloth].


“The best letters seem to me the most delightful of all written things,” Henry James once observed, and James himself was, as his biographer Leon Edel observes in his introduction to a collection of James’ best letters, “a supreme artist in the intimacies and connections that bind people together or tear them apart.” Henry James Selected Letters has recently been published by Harvard [$29.95 cloth]. The collection was put together by Edel from his four-volume epistolarium already published. The letters in the one-volume selection are those which especially illuminate James’ writing, his life, his thoughts and fancies, his literary theories, and his most meaningful friendships. In addition, there are two dozen letters that have never before been printed. Among those with whom James corresponded were such notables as Flaubert, Robert Louis Stevenson, H.G. Wells, Joseph Conrad, William Dean Howells, and Edith Wharton. In 1972, Yale published a remarkable collection of Civil War letters of a Georgia plantation family, compiled by Robert Manson Myers, then and now a professor of English at the University of Maryland. The collection which came out in three volumes was entitled The Children of Pride, and it won the 1973 National Book Award in History. It was also named among the best books of 1972 by the American Library Association and by the New York Times Book Review, Saturday Review, Time, Washington Post, and Newsweek. Now Yale and Myers have put together an abridged one-volume paper edition of what critic Jonathan Yardley called “a great and indispensable book” [$14.95]. Yale has also reprinted in paper Michelangelo: A Psychoanalytic Study of His Life and Images by Robert S. Liebert, M.D., a psychobiography that offers fresh insights into the artist’s life and work [$19.95]. Another new Yale paperback is Bonnie G. Smith’s Confessions of a Concierge [$7.95]. Yale has also published a paper edition of Hitler: Memoirs of a Confidant, edited by Henry Ashby Turner, Jr. and translated by Ruth Hein, the confidant being Otto Wagener, a prominent official in the Nazi Party with close ties to Hitler from the autumn of 1929 until the summer of 1933 when he fell into disfavor and became one of the first “un-persons” of Nazi Germany, later surviving the war and living until 1971 [$13.95]. Georgia has published a paper edition of Benjamin E. May’s Born to Rebel, An Autobiography, the life story of the son of a sharecropper who overcame poverty and prejudice to become president of Atlanta’s Morehouse College for 27 years and the first black president of the Atlanta School Board. In Born to Rebel, first published in 1971, Mays recalls that “the first thing I remember is a white mob looking for a Negro to lynch,” and that he was not allowed to vote until 1945 when he was 51 [$30.00 cloth, $14.95 paper]. Oxford has published a paper edition of G. Edward White’s Earl Warren: A Public Life, a major biography of America’s most influential 20th-century Chief Justice by one of his former law clerks. White’s book is the first study of Chief Justice Warren to cover his entire political career and to examine aspects of Warren’s character that have seemed paradoxical. The biography was winner of the American Bar Association’s 1983 Silver Gavel Award [$9.95]. Oxford has also reprinted John Halperin’s Gissing: A Life in Books, the life of a Victorian who was more prolific as a novelist than any of his contemporaries except Trollope, who married three times, committing bigamy in the process, and died in France at the age of 46 [$12. 95]. Atheneum has a paper edition of James Matthews’ Voices: A Life of Frank O’Connor, the first and definitive biography of the Irish master of the short story, a work Newsweek deemed “first-rate” and the San Francisco Chronicle acclaimed as “superb.” [12.95]. David Eisenhower’s national best seller, a biography of his grandfather entitled Eisenhower at War, 1943—1945 is now available as a Vintage Book [$10.95]. The Chicago Sun-Times called David Eisenhower’s book “the most complete account of Ike’s command, rich with maps and notes, vigorous and balanced,” and Newsweek said it is “destined to become a standard source for the brief but eventful period it chronicles.” A recent Bison Book is Samuel E. Chamberlain’s My Confession: The Recollections of a Rogue, the memoirs of a scoundrel and hero who hopped from battlefields to boudoirs in the Mexican War era, with an introduction and postscript by Roger Butterfield [$9.95]. Tony Buttitta’s The Lost Summer: A Personal Memoir of F. Scott Fitzgerald, originally published in hard cover as After the Good Gay Times, has been reissued in a paper edition by St. Martin’s. Buttitta was running a bookstore in Asheville, North Carolina in the summer of 1935 when he encountered Fitzgerald and developed a curious friendship with the American author [$7.95]. Two recent Fireside Books are respectively Groucho Letters: Letters from and to Groucho Marx [$7.95], and Dorothy Herrmann’s S.J. Perelman: A Life [$8.95]. California has reprinted Yue Daiyun and Carolyn Wakeman’s To the Storm: The Odyssey of a Revolutionary Chinese Woman, in which Yue presents a terrifying memoir of China during the turbulent Maoist years [$9.95]. A recent MIT Press paperback is Dorothy Stein’s Ada: A Life and a Legacy, Ada being August Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace, and daughter of Lord Byron, as well as a close friend to many leading figure of the Victorian era. [$9.95].


Shortly before its initial publication in 1986, W. Bruce Lincoln’s Passage through Armageddon: The Russians in War & Revolution, 1914—1918, was described by Publishers Weekly as being “epic in scope yet intimate in its detail.” PW also praised Lincoln’s work for humanizing “the story of Russia’s defeat in World War I, followed by revolution, as no other book has succeeded in doing.” Lincoln’s chronicle of carnage and conflict has been reprinted as a Touchstone Book [$12.95]. Also available from Touchstone is Bradley E. Smith’s The War’s Long Shadow: The Second World War and its Aftermath, China, Russia, Britain, America, in which Smith describes the enormous social, economic, and political mobilization of the Big Four Allies during the war, arguing that these led to the postwar distribution of power [$9.95]. A third Touchstone reprint is Elizabeth Becker’s When the War Was Over: Cambodia’s Revolution and the Voices of Its People, an account of the terror and destruction wrought in that Southeast Asian country during the Khmer Rouge regime [$9.95]. Oxford has come out with a paper edition of Richard Hough’s The Great War at Sea, 1914—1918, a work considered the standard one-volume history of the Royal Navy during World War I [$10.95]. California has reissued Gerald Fleming’s Hitler and the Final Solution, a book British Historian Hugh Trevor-Roper proclaimed as “a model report. . . .it puts the record straight and adds many interesting new details to a terrible but still compelling story” [$8.95]. The MIT Press is offering a paper edition of Richard Etlin’s The Architecture of Death: The Transformation of the Cemetery in Eighteenth-Century Paris [$19.95]. Henry Hobhouse’s Seeds of Change, which examines the influence in history of five plants—quinine, sugar cane, tea, cotton, and the potato—has been added to Harper & Row’s Perennial Library Series [$8.95].


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