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Letters of E. B. White Paperback – December 18, 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

E. B. White, the author of such beloved classics as Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan, was born in Mount Vernon, New York. He graduated from Cornell University in 1921 and, five or six years later, joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine, then in its infancy. He died on October 1, 1985, and was survived by his son and three grandchildren.

Mr. White's essays have appeared in Harper's magazine, and some of his other books are: One Man's Meat, The Second Tree from the Corner, Letters of E. B. White, Essays of E. B. White, and Poems and Sketches of E. B. White. He won countless awards, including the 1971 National Medal for Literature and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, which commended him for making a "substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children."

During his lifetime, many young readers asked Mr. White if his stories were true. In a letter written to be sent to his fans, he answered, "No, they are imaginary tales . . . But real life is only one kind of life—there is also the life of the imagination."

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Revised ed. edition (December 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061374598
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061374593
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #394,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Transparent writing consists of prose that doesn't tell; it is prose that shows. E. B. White is the master of this. His prose takes you where he wants you to be and, once there, shows you the sights, lets you smell the aromas and hear the sounds.
A modest man, E. B. White claims often that writing for him is difficult and painful. Yet this collection of letters shows that from the beginning, Elwyn Brooks White had an innate ability to write simply, clearly, and charmingly.
Whether he is thanking young readers for compliments, advising aspiring writers on writing, or berating a famous author for endorsing a product, he is witty, clear, and compassionate.
Reading these letters you will think, cry, laugh, and even wince, but you will not frown in confusion as you wonder what the writer is trying to say. As a very beneficial side effect, reading E. B. White will often improve your own writing.
Am I biased? You bet! Years of reading the stilted, jargon-laced writing of business, and the contrived, artificial efforts at "style" of many authors, reading anything by E. B. White is like talking to your best friend.
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Format: Hardcover
E.B. White was a well known writer for The New Yorker, but I think his real genius was in writing letters to friends and family. He wrote about the ordinary and made it more than interesting, but fun. (His description of how to set up your room when admitted to the hospital is hysterical!) But he also wrote about hard times in life, his wife's illness, his own aging, death of friends and family. He wrote with honesty, clarity, and gusto. Letter writing (and READING a letter also) should never be a chore. Reading White's letters never is. I keep this book on the nightstand by my bed.
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Format: Paperback
I have read all his letters. Several more than once. In doing so, I have come up with a list of positions that E.B. White took since the mid 1930s. Very few people can be right about everything. I think he was right maybe 99% of the time. (Don't know what the 1% wrong would be though).

1. He was against the isolationist stance promoted by the Lindberghs. White was against all wars up to this one, but he could not accept what Hitler was doing in Europe. He saw the danger and wrote about it. He was not the first one to write. There were many people who actually lived or traveled extensively in Europe during this time that spoke out first, but White was an eloquent spokesman against Nazis and isolationism.

2. He was a strong advocate of world government. He was the first writer who had a national forum to write on it. And he wrote a lot. For a time fully one-third of his editorials in The New Yorker were on that subject. It hasn't worked out as well as he had hoped, but much of that is because the United States has not backed the United Nations in the way we should have. Also, White was strongly against the veto power given to the major nations (particular the Soviet Union). Again, I think time has proven him right.

3. He was the first to criticize the House Un-American Activities Committee. And it was at a time when Congress, by a vote of 346-17, agreed to issue subpoenas to the Hollywood Ten. To come and support these 10 people and look directly into the eyes of 346 members of Congress and tell them "you're wrong", took a great act of courage. Unfortunately, there weren't many others like him at the time.

4. He spoke out against Joseph McCarthy even when Eisenhower was afraid to publicly do so.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Letters of E.B. White, Dorothy Lobrano Goth, Ed.; Harper & Row, Publishers (1976); Revised Edition (2006; paperback, 2007; Amazon review "Hardcover Original 5 Stars; Revised Edition No Stars" sent/accepted 08/18/10)

The original hardcover review: "The perfect book is the book where you don't care what page you're on, & this is the perfect book."

Post Note (08/18/10): In case you're thinking of purchasing the Revised Edition of the Letters (2006), don't.

Recently, a friend exhibited an interest in Mr. White after being swiftly won over by sampling a page or two of White's "Wild Flag" (Houghton Mifflin Co.; 1943-46).

I figured his best next venture would be the Letters & foraged into the Amazon marketplace, where I found the "Letters of E.B. White, Revised Edition." I'm game. A paperback copy was purchased.

I was appalled, successively, by:

Richard Grant's cliché-infested "Praise for The Revised Edition" ("deft," etc.) is exactly the sort of cheapjack media log-rolling that Andy White regarded with heart-felt contempt;

John Updike's weirdly disengaged "Foreword" also featured the telltale "deft" (a word most likely to surface when a writer is uninspired by what he's been commissioned to endorse) - & the word "unease," promiscuously employed no less than five times (buy a thesaurus!). Its final paragraph ends with the tone of his writing tailing off into a void of invisible conviction;

(Updike's incessant characterization of White's "unease" should be balanced by what Updike had written earlier which, fortunately, was quoted by White's biographer, Scott Elledge, p. 130, "E.B.
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