From Library Journal
Setting the stage for a trilogy he is planning on the mid-20th-century U.S. literary Left, Wald (American culture and English, Univ. of Michigan) presents a cast of characters from that Communist-led tradition. Profiling over 30 writers, Wald's study emphasizes biography in order to illumine the connection between political convictions and literary art. The result blends literary scholarship and oral history. For example, Chapter 8 introduces Richard Attaway and compares his novel Blood on the Forge to Claude McKay's novel Banjo. Likewise, Wald introduces Gregory Corso through his chance encounter with Joseph Freeman when speaking poetry into a public telephone. With Muriel Rukeyser as an example, the conclusion summarizes how leftist poetry fits within poetic traditions. Though Wald does include undefined literary terms and historical allusions that make the work less accessible to general readers, the study is still valuable for assessing the contributions of numerous individual writers. Like Wald, Cary Nelson demonstrates poetry's power in Revolutionary Memory: Recovering the Poetry of the American Left; Nelson profiles fewer poets yet more fully discusses the role of U.S. Communists in the battle against fascism in Spain. Wald's work is recommended for academic libraries. Marianne Orme, Des Plaines P.L., IL
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This is a fascinating, perhaps even magisterial record of the complex achievement of those many American writers who gallantly dared to imagine a world free of reckless capitalism and its attendant social plagues. (Arnold Rampersad, author of "The Life of Langston Hughes")