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Dress British, Think Yiddish
How the Ivy League style at Yale—purveyed by Jewish clothiers—faded while the university changed its ideas ...
And We Shall Overcome
The important background and text of President Lyndon Johnson's 1965 Voting Rights speech to Congress.
Selections From: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
This story of a slave and his yearning to be free is one of the great ...
Race Goes To War
How questions of race followed black troops to the battlefields of World War II, and how ...
The Rise of the Standard Oil Company
With a singular vision, drive, and ruthlessness, John D. Rockefeller builds the Standard Oil Company into ...
These perceptive and loving letters during a time of decisive ferment are unparalleled in American history.
Birth of the Skyscraper
Louis Sullivan explores the cultural ideas as well as the engineering and architectural realities that led ...
The Story of a Photograph
The story behind Walker Evans’s iconic photograph of Ellie Mae ...
In Search of the Next Kick
Jack Kerouac and the Making of the Beat Generation
by John Tytell
The appearance of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road in 1957 announced the entry of the the “beat” generation into the world of American letters. Kerouac’s autobiographical, “spontaneous prose,” a kind of novelistic composition also reflected in the work of his beat compatriots Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso, burst onto a fifties America supposedly safe, stuffy, and conservative (though in retrospect there is considerable evidence to the contrary). Here was a new and wildly disorganized view of life that seemed to extol amorality and indulge in self-gratification. Kerouac’s characters are in search of some sort of spiritual truth—and it may be connected to drugs, drink, sex, jazz, or fast cars. John Tytell, one of the great chroniclers of the beat writers, here offers an insightful mini-biography of Jack Kerouac, certainly the icon of the beat generation and a writer of puzzling complexity.
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