A thoughtfully edited volume that reflects America’s changing social, political, and cultural life.



Four centuries of essays testify to the richness of the form.

In the first of a projected three volumes of collected essays, Lopate offers what he justifiably calls “a smorgasbord of treats, a place to begin to sample the endless riches of the American essay”: 100 essays from the 18th to the 21st centuries, from Cotton Mather to Zadie Smith. Volume 2, The Golden Age of the American Essay, will focus on the years 1945-2000, and Volume 3 will be dedicated to pieces from the 21st century. Many writers included here are likely to be familiar to readers but perhaps not to the students for whom this collection seems aimed, with its informative introduction, succinct headnotes, and contents organized by both theme and form. George Washington is represented by his Farewell Address; Emerson, by “Experience”; Margaret Fuller, by an excerpt from Woman in the Nineteenth Century. Thoreau rings in, predictably, with “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”; Henry James, with “The Art of Fiction”; Jane Addams, with a piece on settlement houses; William James, with “What Makes a Life Significant?” Some essays—such as Dorothy Parker’s musings on people notable for their goodness and James Thurber’s on men’s idealizing of women—seem dusty, if not dated, although Fanny Fern’s dryly satirical “Delightful Men,” from 1870, has lost none of its bite. Essays that consider race, ethnicity, disability, social justice, and sexual orientation make the collection timely. In “The Homosexual Villain,” written for a gay magazine in 1955, Norman Mailer candidly reveals the experiences and readings that transformed his bias against gay men. “My God, homosexuals are people too,” he realized suddenly. Among the many other notable contributors are Edgar Allan Poe, Frederick Douglass, Walt Whitman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, M.F.K. Fisher, James Baldwin, Rachel Carson, and Jamaica Kincaid.

. A thoughtfully edited volume that reflects America’s changing social, political, and cultural life.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4726-8

Page Count: 928

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.



The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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