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62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2004
I passed the American Lit CLEP yesterday with a score of 69...the test was easier than what I thought it would be. I ordered this book and the Barron's Study Keys (a complete waste of money) for test preparation. I found myself constantly referring back to this source over and over again as I studied.

To prepare for the exam, I would suggest reading this book completely (except for the chapter concerning Canadian Literature). While reading, write down all of the authors and works mentioned. Take this information and look for online summaries (I liked sparknotes) of the works. This should prepare you to pass the exam with room to spare.

I would also suggest examining some of the most popular American playwrights (O'Neill and Williams). The Complete Idiot's Guide does not provide much information on them, yet there were several questions on the actual test about them.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2005
Based on recommendations here, I bought this book and used it over a period of 4 months to prepare for the American Literature CLEP. I found the book easy to read and would guess that it directly covers about 85% of what I saw. The book didn't cover a few authors and left out some of the works discussed but otherwise was right on target.

In addition to the book, definitely study the playwrights (Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill) as suggested by another reviewer. Also, the only chapter I didn't need was the one on Canadian authors.

As a study guide, I used this book almost exclusively and wouldn't have had a chance without it.

BTW, I scored a 72.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 1999
The Idiot's Guide to American Literature has a refreshing way of delivering crucial American Literature information. This book gives information about American authors, in chronological order, as well as the era in which they lived, and key works the authors have written. The author gives amusing comments that will help a reader remember certain styles the authors use to create their works. Throughout the book glossary terms are explained, and interesting and fun information is shared about the author, the work, or the author's era. Exerts from authors' key works are also included. The book also has appendices that give additional resources, a list of each author's works, and a glossary. It is a perfect resource to include when studying for the American Literature CLEP examination. I started to use this book as a study aide, and it turned out to be a book I couldn't put down.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 2004
I purchased this book in order to take the 6 credit CLEP test. It was very easy to read, gave me more than enough info, and was the only thing I needed to pass the CLEP (college test). I recommend this highly. I had also purchased the Barron's EZ study key which was a HUGE waste of money. So, save money and purchase this book alone. It will help you if you are in an American Lit course, taking a college credit test, or just wanting to read about American Lit for your own satisfaction.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2005
I have SO enjoyed reading this book. I graduated from high school 30+ years ago I just wanted to feel comfortable with the literature content that I was expected to know and authors. It is amazing how much more I catch in conversation, movies and other books after reading this one. This book fills in the gaps I failed to retain years ago or was never exposed to. Excellent and FUN reading!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2003
As a high school English teacher of American Literature, I find this book extremely valuable to review before introducing a new author or piece of literature. It is brief, informational and fun to read. It would be a great resource for any student, in high school or college, who wants to cover as much literature as possible. It does not replace reading the actual work, but it does offer highlights of authors, summaries of literature, terminology and definitions. It also covers each major American literary movement that makes up our nation's literary history, as well as many of the popular authors of that particular time. Anyone who teaches, writes or covers American Literature in any form, would benefit from having this book!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2005
I read this book along with Barrons Key, some cliff notes on some major books, a Heath Anthology, Rudmans Clep study guide, and I jumped on the internet. I over did it, but better to be over prepared than under prepared. The other books had good information, but this book is all I truely needed. It is very easy to read and I found myself constantly going back to this book for review.

I highly recommend this book for CLEP, but it will not cover everything you see on the Clep. Although, the only other tool you need is the Internet. Don't waste your money on any other books I mentioned, unless you want to be thoroughly prepared.
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27 of 36 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 9, 2002
I bought this book because I needed a quick refresher in American Literature for my M.A. comprehensive exam. I was delighted when, upon early reading, I discovered that the book delivers a bounty of facts in an easy-to-read, easy-to-remember fashion. But then I came upon a few things that were just outright wrong, not the least of these being that Ben Franklin was born in Philly. True, that isn't a big deal when one looks at the larger scope of what the author has done, and that is to provide an interesting survey of American Literature. But if she gets this fact wrong, how far does the misinformation go? The lesson: Evaluate your sources carefully. The second complaint I have with this book is that while it is a literature guide for the rest of us, Rozakis has taken the concept of "complete idiot" a little too far in her tone. Kudos to her for not using obscure speech to make herself and her subject appear above the common folk, but when a writer resorts to using the phrase "cling like a cheap suit" not once but twice within the space of the first 100 pages of the book, that should be a signal of someone with poor command over the English language.
Criticism aside, if you buy this book and read it, you'll find the layout marvelous, the "litwit" callouts fascinating, and the presentation of the material interesting. But as even the author would probably suggest, don't take this as the ultimate source for American literature. It wasn't meant for that.
As you read this book, just keep in mind, "What would Mark Twain say about this?"
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2005
I used this book exclusively to study for the CLEP exam. I took the exam on June 21, 2005 and passed with a score of 62. I read the entire book and highlighted important information. I paid close attention to the "Wit Lit" boxes and the "Least You Should Know" at the end of each chapter. The day before the exam, I spent about 4 hours reviewing my highlights. There were a couple of questions on the exam that I guessed at, but for the most part, everything I needed to know for the exam was covered in this book.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2000
I used this book as a guide to CLEP out of American Literature. It had all the detail I needed for taking the exam. It's a good book to get the basics of a very large subject area; most American Lit. text are seperated into two books of 1100 pages each. So it does do a good job of giving you the basics on American Litature. ALthought it good for CLEP the editing need to be greatly improved. Lots of spelling errors and a major error in stating that Ben. Franklin was born in Phil.,PA. All and all a good book with the basics of American Literature.
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