As Centenary Prize Book, this title will get particularly widespread publicity and advertising and is a ""must book"" for the trade at large. Ordinarily, it would rank high scholastically, rate lead reviews by students of American literature, and win a deservedly permanent place on library shelves -- but scarcely be expected to pile up popular sale figures, such as it may do under present auspices. Definitely the market to go after is that which read -- and enjoyed -- The Flowering of New England, though this, on close analysis, bears little actual relation. The same period -- yes, but Mr. Shepard has approached it from the angle of development in philosophy and thought concepts, rather than through the dramatic conception of the personalities that composed it. Brooks' is the more popular angle, his facts will make their mark more readily, his people will live and move on the stage he has set. But Shepard's book is definitely concerned with the growth of one man's mind; his personality, his human relations except where they made their impress on his thinking, are secondary. His is the biography of a man's intellectual growth, and of the factors that vent into that growth. When the book is finished, the reader has traced Alcott's mental life --he knows the effect certain influences in public life had upon him, but aside from that, he has little concept of what went on about him. A teaching genius, he was far ahead of his times --but he was counted a failure. One feels that the last word has been said on Alcott, that all sources of information have been tapped, that here is the definitive book. It is not light and easy reading -- but it is rewarding. Sell to your more intellectual customers. They will give it the impetus in circles where it should be appreciated. Count on substantial backing by publishers.