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U.S.A. #01: The 42nd Parallel

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U.S.A. #01: The 42nd Parallel Cover

ISBN13: 9780618056811
ISBN10: 0618056815
Condition:
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

With U.S.A. John Dos Passos is said to have written the great American novel. While Fitzgerald and Hemingway were cultivating their "own little corners", said Edmund Wilson, Dos Passos was taking on the world. Counted among the best novels of the century by the Modern Library and by some of the finest writers working today, U.S.A. is being talked about, studied, and read again, not just by students of modernism but by readers of all ages both here and abroad. Here is a kaleidoscopic portrait of a nation, buzzing with history and life on every page.

In stories artfully spliced together and "with a sense of aliveness that quickens every page" (Atlantic Bookshelf), the destinies of five characters unfold just after the Spanish-American War. They are blown on this parallel toward New York, struggling to find their way in the world.

Synopsis:

With his U.S.A. trilogy, comprising THE 42nd PARALLEL, 1919, and THE BIG MONEY, John Dos Passos is said by many to have written the great American novel. While Fitzgerald and Hemingway were cultivating what Edmund Wilson once called their "own little corners," John Dos Passos was taking on the world. Counted as one of the best novels of the twentieth century by the Modern Library and by some of the finest writers working today, U.S.A. is a grand, kaleidoscopic portrait of a nation, buzzing with history and life on every page.

The trilogy opens with THE 42nd PARALLEL, where we find a young country at the dawn of the twentieth century. Slowly, in stories artfully spliced together, the lives and fortunes of five characters unfold. Mac, Janey, Eleanor, Ward, and Charley are caught on the storm track of this parallel and blown New Yorkward. As their lives cross and double back again, the likes of Eugene Debs, Thomas Edison, and Andrew Carnegie make cameo appearances.

About the Author

John Dos Passos (1896-1970), a member of the Lost Generation, was the author of more than forty works of fiction and nonfiction, including THREE SOLDIERS and MANHATTAN TRANSFER.

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Syzygyennui, June 19, 2006 (view all comments by Syzygyennui)
Being a student of history, I found this to be an incredibly insightful and educational work. Dos Passos uses a handful of (for the most part) unrelated characters to paint a picture of the United States from the turn of the Century to the First World War. Though he clearly demonstrates an aptitude for character development, Dos Passos intentionally avoids bringing the reader too close to any of them. None of the characters are heroic, to the contrary, they seem to often be drawn towards unsavory people and anti-social ideas. Dos Passos masterfully demonstrates the uncertainty of the period. Each character's path is a microcosm of the collective conscientousness of the US as a whole. The protagonists enjoy very little stability in their lives -- few relationships prove sustainable, permanent employment appears elusive, often characters find themselves in new settings with little or no resources. On the macroscopic side, nations find themselves trying to adjust to the implications of a newly industrialized world. A world that is immersed in war and dealing with a socialist fervor that is threatening the stability of its governments. Through his characters, Dos Passos illustrates a picture of this uncertainty and the guarded confidence of a young nation as it approaches war.

Dos Passos intentionally skips from one character to another in order to demonstrate global themes and not cause and effect on an individual scale. To further facilitate this global approach, Dos Passos implements an interesting technique of using the chapter breaks to insert newspaper headlines from the period and also auto-biographical stream-of-conscientiousness bits under the heading of "The Camera-Eye". Both of these are sometimes a tad hard to follow (especially if your knowledge of the history of this era is limited), but they do contribute to the theme.
I have read the books 1 through 25 of the Modern Library's Top 100, and I rank this one about middle of the pack. If I weren't a history buff, it would be substantially lower.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780618056811
Foreword:
Doctorow, E. L.
Author:
Doctorow, E. L.
Foreword by:
Doctorow, E. L.
Foreword:
Doctorow, E. L.
Author:
Dos Passos, John Roderigo
Author:
DOS Passos, John
Author:
Passos, John Dos
Publisher:
Mariner Books
Location:
Boston
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
History
Subject:
Classics
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
United States History 1865-1921.
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Series:
U.S.A. Trilogy
Series Volume:
01
Publication Date:
May 2000
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
8.22x5.56x.85 in. .80 lbs.

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U.S.A. #01: The 42nd Parallel Sale Trade Paper
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Product details 352 pages Mariner Books - English 9780618056811 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
With his U.S.A. trilogy, comprising THE 42nd PARALLEL, 1919, and THE BIG MONEY, John Dos Passos is said by many to have written the great American novel. While Fitzgerald and Hemingway were cultivating what Edmund Wilson once called their "own little corners," John Dos Passos was taking on the world. Counted as one of the best novels of the twentieth century by the Modern Library and by some of the finest writers working today, U.S.A. is a grand, kaleidoscopic portrait of a nation, buzzing with history and life on every page.

The trilogy opens with THE 42nd PARALLEL, where we find a young country at the dawn of the twentieth century. Slowly, in stories artfully spliced together, the lives and fortunes of five characters unfold. Mac, Janey, Eleanor, Ward, and Charley are caught on the storm track of this parallel and blown New Yorkward. As their lives cross and double back again, the likes of Eugene Debs, Thomas Edison, and Andrew Carnegie make cameo appearances.

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