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U.S.A.: The 42nd Parallel / 1919 / The Big Money (Library of America) Hardcover – August 1, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In honor of his centennial, Dos Passos is being drafted into the prestigious Library of America collection with his greatest work. This volume gathers the three novels known generically as USA?The 42nd Parallel (1930), 1919 (1932), The Big Money (1933)?along with scholarly notes and a chronology of the author's life. The Library of America edition of USA is undoubtedly among the finest ever published. Dos Passos couldn't have received a better birthday present. For all fiction collections.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Publisher

The Library of America is an award-winning, nonprofit program dedicated to publishing America's best and most significant writing in handsome, enduring volumes, featuring authoritative texts. Hailed as "the most important book-publishing project in the nation's history" (Newsweek), this acclaimed series is restoring America's literary heritage in "the finest-looking, longest-lasting edition ever made" (New Republic).

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1312 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America (August 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1883011140
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883011147
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More 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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

110 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Gregory N. Hullender on June 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lots of people try to find America. Dos Passos found the America of 1910-1930 and gave it to us, in almost 1300 pages spread across three novels - all collected in this one volume. He presents it to us as a tapestry, woven from four types of thread: stories focused on any of the 12 principle characters, actual news items from the period, biographical sketches of key figures from that time, and stream-of-consciousness narratives. It's dark and smoky, gritty and real. It's America.
As the focus moves from character to character, we fall in love with all twelve of them, despite their flaws. They take us all over North America, and even to Europe for World War I. Rich and poor, male and female, worker, labor organizer, aviation millionaire or government official, all have their own stories to tell, and each represents a bit of America.
Such a grand fabric contains many themes: drink destroys the great and the small alike, illicit sex seduces people into giving up their money, their families, and their health, and everyone takes advantage of the working man - even his so-called friends. Nevertheless, the book never seems to be making a moral point, and the characters don't come across as good or evil, heroes or villains; they're just people.
One does become uncomfortably aware much the America of 100 years ago resembles the Third World countries of today. Read Rohinton Mistry's "A Fine Balance" to compare and contrast.
This edition of USA (Library of America, Hardcover) combines all three novels into a single handy volume with decent explanatory notes, a built-in silk bookmark, and - best of all - a sewn binding that lies flat, despite the nearly 1300 pages.
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40 of 47 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Dos Passos' trilogy is important reading for anyone intersted in American History. In particular, Dos Passos chronicles the history of the labor movement in the US and the revolt of working class worldwide.
It is intersting to note that at the time that this book was written, Dos Passos was a frevent socialist/communist. By the time of his death, he had renounced the communist idealogies for a more conservatine viewpoint.
Although, the fictional prose is simplistic and the dialogue somewhat cliched, a powerful story is told. The world is seen through the eyes of several ordinary citizens, all with different backgrounds and from different classes. The characters lives interwave through important world events such as labor unrest, Mexican revolution, World War 1, and the Russian Revolution.

Interwoven throughout the fiction are snippets that attempt to educate the reader. The 'Camera Eye' passages are newspaper headlines and attempt to capture the mood of the day. There are sections of Dos Passos's own thoughts of the day, some of them written as Dos Passos as a child might have seen them. My favorite sections were the short autobiographies of important citizens- among them Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Eugene Debs, Woodrow Wilsoon, and Emma Goldberg.
If you are lookiong for a passionate or suspenseful fictional story, this is not the book for you. But if you are intersted in history, especially American History, this book is excellent in capturing the mood of first third of the 20th century.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By asphlex on May 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Now this is not to say that USA is relatively 'the best American Novel' (alas, it is only among them within the unique tapestry of Great American Writers), but when defining the concept as 'American Novel', what more could anyone aspire toward?
These three novels are brilliant seperately (in my college days I was asigned 1919 by itself in a course on 'the radical novel'; nevertheless I recall being immensely impressed), and yet seem even more overwhelming taken as a whole. The structure provides a random consecutiveness--as in one long story chronicling the stages of life of numerous fully developed characters, the random swirl of existence buzzing in the text never content to stop introducing another. At nearly 1300 pages (shortened immensely by a short-story detail sped up by experimental prose poetry and detailed biographical editorials on life and the times of the American world spinning around both character and reader from the turn of the 19th century until the economic collapse of 1929, as well as frequent, crudely effective illustrations that serve more as a break, as a magazine article complete with pictures) the quick pacing and exciting narrative will blaze you through to the end of each section, hungry to scrape in just a few more pages before the inevitability of unconsciousness.
The politics of the book are varied: clearly opinionated yet with a rational outlook that includes the validity of opposing belief. As a result it comes across as remarkably open to human experience and the ways different people take the same things happening to them. I found it endlessly fascinating and have annoyed several people (no doubt by this time including several of you)with endless, endless raves . . .
Okay--I don't take it quite as seriously as that, but more as a document of a time from as many possible angles as a human mind could presume about others.
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42 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Steve Weibel on September 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I read this book first in 1967 while in high school, given to me by a teacher who wanted me to understand the real American History. When he told me an American general marched on World War One veterans in Washington, DC after WW I and killed many who were looking for veterans benefits I knew this book would be special. It delivers history in a most compelling and unique way, unlike any other book I've read. Americans don't know the whole truth of US History. These three books pick a period and educate, entertain, horrify and overwhelm you with our culture, our past, our politics. It is a must read for anyone remotely interested in US history. One of my favorite books of all time.
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