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The Best American Essays

by

The Best American Essays Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The Best American Essays features a selection of the year's outstanding essays — works of literary achievement that show an awareness of craft and forcefulness of thought. Hundreds of essays are gathered annually from a wide variety of national and regional publications. These essays are then screened, and approximately one hundred are turned over to a distinguished guest editor, who may add a few personal discoveries and who makes the final selections. This year's volume is dedicated to the memory of Stephen Jay Gould, who died in May of this year, soon after he made his final choices and wrote his introduction.

In the introduction Gould writes: "Many commentators have stated — quite correctly in my view — that the twentieth century did not truly begin in 1900 or 1901, by any standard of historical continuity, but rather at the end of World War I, the great shatterer of illusions about progress and human betterment... I suspect that future chroniclers will date the inception of the third millennium from September 11, 2001. Any collector of essays for this fateful year must therefore, up front and first of all, address this issue.

"I was tempted to make a collection solely of 9/11 pieces (so many good ones already, and so many more yet to come)," Gould continues, "but neither decency nor common morality permitted such a course. We simply cannot allow evil madmen to define history in this way. Moreover, the event occurred late enough in the year to preclude the kind of pervasiveness that might summon such a temptation. But 9/11 stories must be here, and you will find some of the first of the best."

Since 1986, The Best American Essays has gathered the best nonfiction writing of the year and established itself as the best-selling anthology of its kind.

Synopsis:

Since its inception in 1915, the Best American series has become the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction and nonfiction. For each volume, a series editor reads hundreds of pieces from dozens of periodicals, then selects between fifty and a hundred outstanding works. That selection is pared down to the twenty or so very best pieces by a guest editor who is widely recognized as a leading writer in his or her field. This unique system has helped make the Best American series the most respected — and most popular — of its kind.

From The New Yorker to the Missouri Review, from Esquire to the American Scholar, the editors of The Best American Essays have scoured hundreds of the country's best periodicals in search of the most artful and powerful writing around. This thoughtful, provocative collection is the result of their search.

About the Author

Stephan Jay Gould was the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology at Harvard University and the Vincent Astor Visiting Research Professor of Biology at New York University. He was the author of classic works on evolution and other scientific topics, among them The Mismeasure of Man, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History, The Panda's Thumb, and Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin. He died in May 2002.

Robert Atwan has edited numerous literary anthologies and written essays for periodicals nationwide.

Table of Contents

Contents

Foreword by Robert Atwan viii
Introduction: To Open a Millennium by Stephen Jay Gould xiii

Jacques Barzun. The Tenth Muse 1
from Harper's Magazine

Rudolph Chelminski. Turning Point 13
from Smithsonian

Bernard Cooper. Winner Take Nothing 22
from GQ

Nicholas Delbanco. The Countess of Stanlein Restored 35
from Harper's Magazine

Barbara Ehrenreich. Welcome to Cancerland 66
from Harper's Magazine

Jonathan Franzen. My Father's Brain 88
from The New Yorker

Atul Gawande. Final Cut 111
from The New Yorker

David Halberstam. Who We Are 124
from Vanity Fair

Christopher Hitchens. For Patriot Dreams 137
from Vanity Fair

Sebastian Junger. The Lion in Winter 144
from National Geographic Adventure

Amy Kolen. Fire 165
from The Massachusetts Review

Andrew Levy. The Anti-Jefferson 188
from The American Scholar

Adam Mayblum. The Price We Pay 213
from DoubleTake

Louis Menand. College: The End of the Golden Age 219
from The New York Review of Books

Cullen Murphy. Out of the Ordinary 232
from The Atlantic Monthly

Danielle Ofri. Merced 237
from The Missouri Review

Darryl Pinckney. Busted in New York 253
from The New Yorker

Richard Price and Anne Hudson-Price. Word on the Street 267
from The New York Times Magazine

Joe Queenan. Matriculation Fixation 276
from The New York Times Education Life

John Sack. Inside the Bunker 280
from Esquire

Mario Vargas Llosa. Why Literature? 295
from The New Republic

Gore Vidal. The Meaning of Timothy McVeigh 309
from Vanity Fair

Garry Wills. The Dramaturgy of Death 331
from The New York Review of Books

Penny Wolfson. Moonrise 344
from The Atlantic Monthly

Biographical Notes 367
Notable Essays of 2001 372

Product Details

ISBN:
9780618049325
Editor:
Gould, Stephen Jay
Foreword:
Atwan, Robert
Editor:
Atwan, Robert; Gould, Stephen Jay
Author:
Atwan, Robert
Author:
Gould, Stephen Jay
Publisher:
Mariner Books
Location:
Boston
Subject:
General
Subject:
Essays
Subject:
American - General
Subject:
20th century
Subject:
American essays
Copyright:
Edition Number:
2002
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Series:
Best American (TM)
Series Volume:
240
Publication Date:
20021015
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
400
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 1.0 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Annuals
Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Essays
Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » General
Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Prize Winning Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

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Product details 400 pages Mariner Books - English 9780618049325 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
Since its inception in 1915, the Best American series has become the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction and nonfiction. For each volume, a series editor reads hundreds of pieces from dozens of periodicals, then selects between fifty and a hundred outstanding works. That selection is pared down to the twenty or so very best pieces by a guest editor who is widely recognized as a leading writer in his or her field. This unique system has helped make the Best American series the most respected — and most popular — of its kind.

From The New Yorker to the Missouri Review, from Esquire to the American Scholar, the editors of The Best American Essays have scoured hundreds of the country's best periodicals in search of the most artful and powerful writing around. This thoughtful, provocative collection is the result of their search.

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