Kramer has well organized his materials for this study of the literary life in the Midwest (1900-1930). He is an adept researcher, a maker of sound if uninspired judgments, and has a sometimes wry but unprepossessing style. What he has produced is an unbudgably solid reference volume and a highly absorbing panorama. Bubbling in the ferment are such giants as Dreiser, Sandburg and Sherwood Anderson and a handful of lesser lights, Vachel Lindsay, Hamlin Garland, Edgar Lee Masters, Floyd Dell, Harriet Monroe and Margaret Anderson. Kramer takes up the lives of his major subjects and individually weaves their boyhoods and origins into a long overture, then separately takes up their first literary works. They all wind up in Chicago, half-educated but possessed, writing about Spoon River or Winesburg, or the streets, the stockyards, the forlorn humanity who had come to the city of big dreams. A gusher of talent-- sharing one theme, the failure of civilization to match the hopes of youth. Kramer captures the spirit of the renaissance with quite some success.