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The 42nd Parallel / 1919 / The Big Money Hardcover – August 1, 1996

4.4 out of 5 stars 105 customer reviews

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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

  • Series: U.S.A
  • 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: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #359,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
When I first came across John Dos Passos' USA Trilogy (42nd Parallel, 1919, and The Big Money) as a teenager I thought they were the most exciting books I'd read to date. I was enthralled by its scope, its style, and its highly politicized substance. Dos Passos' montage-style (that seemed to be some sort of homage to the great Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein) mixed interwoven story lines of fictional characters with brief contemporary biographies of famous contemporaries. To that he added "newsreel" items, brief inserts from news clippings of the day that gave some sense of the cultural and political world these characters inhabited. Last, Dos Passos added subjective, autobiographical snippets (the "Camera Eye") that served as some sort of exterior voice of the author. I was concerned when I picked up 42nd Parallel many years later that I would find that my excitement was more the product of teenage naivete than from reading a truly unique literary work. Happily, I was not disappointed to find that the USA Trilogy remains for me, a wonderful piece of writing, one that has fallen inexplicably out of the American literary cannon.

Seventy years later we think of American fiction from the 1920s and 1930s as being dominated by three writers, Faulkner, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald. It is not much remembered that at the time Dos Passos was thought of as an essential fourth. When 42nd Parallel was published Edmund Wilson's review went so far as to claim that Dos Passos was "the first of our writers, with the possible exception of Mark Twain, who has successfully used colloquial American for a novel of the highest artistic seriousness." Upon publication of The Big Money in 1936 Dos Passos made the cover of the August 10, 1936 issue of Time Magazine.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I first came to Hunter Thompson because what teenager does not? Then I came to Charles Bukowski because what twenty year old can resist him. When I was in my thirties and my children came to me, I found John Fante. Thompson told me of Bukowski, Bukowski told me of Fante, Fante told me of Passos. Now I am grey and Hunter is dead, Bukowski is a T-shirt, and Fante lingers in my brain as a blinded diabetic whose eyes glimmered in ways his heart could not speak of. But Passos...Passos sits above them all. Sits above Celine even, sits above Vonnegu (whoa almost went too far there).
I first came to John Passos because what fully grown American man does not? He wrote in the frenzy of contemporary modernity when commerce and technology was first beginning to nail the coffin lid down on freedom and movement.
Great American storyteller who you may not have heard of, but who writes and is remembered.
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Format: Paperback
"The 42nd Parallel," the first volume of John Dos Passos's "U.S.A." trilogy, is a novel about America and Americans from the 1890s up to the first World War. That sounds ordinary enough, but "The 42nd Parallel"--the title possibly refers to the latitude of Chicago, Dos Passos's city of birth and where a good portion of the action of the novel takes place--is notable more for its style than for its content, not that the latter is uninteresting. Dos Passos invents five young people from different backgrounds and parts of the country and follows the courses of their lives until their destinies eventually intersect.

The first to be introduced is a poor kid from Connecticut by way of Chicago named Fenian "Mac" McCreary who, starting out as an apprentice printer not unlike Benjamin Franklin, travels from city to city hopping trains and falling haplessly into a variety of odd jobs--assisting a con man, writing propaganda for a labor organization--until he ends up in Mexico running a bookstore on the fringe of a revolutionary movement. Then we meet Janey Williams, a middle-class girl from Washington, D.C., who makes a living as a stenographer while she is looking for a husband.

Next is a diligent, intelligent boy from Wilmington, Delaware, named J. Ward Moorehouse who after some bad luck in his career and his marriage becomes a successful public relations consultant for corporations. Eleanor Stoddard, a Chicago girl who dreams of a fashionable and cultured life for herself, breaks the social and economic barriers and becomes a highly reputable interior decorator in New York.
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