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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 Influence of Democracy on the Feelings of Americans
Tocqueville’s classic analysis of how democracy influences Americans’ feelings toward equality, freedom, individualism, and religion.
The CIA's Secret Research on Torture
How the CIA coopted professional psychologists in finding ways to break prisoners through psychological torture.
Inaugural Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Roosevelt’s four inaugural addresses constitute a barometer of his presidency and the challenges it faced.
Bruce Springsteen sings of the struggles of common folk and the American Dream. June Sawyers traces ...
An Eye for an Eye
Simone de Beauvoir explains why she refused to call for ...
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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