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Bruce Springsteen sings of the struggles of common folk and the American Dream. June Sawyers traces ...
On the Plains with General Custer
An intimate portrait of George Armstrong Custer by his adoring wife, and a vivid record of ...
Emblems of Woe
The South might have been expected to cheer Lincoln’s death, but the reaction there was more ...
Learning the Great River
Mark Twain recalls his adventures—and misadventures—in learning to be a pilot on the Mississippi.
Putting America on Wheels
Reflecting on his success, the hero of mass production talks about his refusal to conduct business ...
Ashes of Soldiers
Walt Whitman’s record of ministering to young wounded soldiers offers one of the tenderest accounts of ...
What fundamentalists believe, and why they are a force in ...
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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