Stella Adler was a force in the American theater, a larger than life actress, acting coach, the only American actress to have studied with Stanislavski, the mentor of Marlon Brando, the wife of Harold Clurman. This book, edited from the transcripts of lectures she gave to students in California, is more than a series of lessons on how to perform the plays of America's greatest playwrights--O'Neill, Miller, Williams, Inge, Odets and Albee--it is also an invaluable history book of a country's ideals and dreams, mistakes and suppressions, and how they found expression through the handful of dramatists who managed somehow to have their voices heard on the commercial stage of Broadway. Adler contends that to gain the American dream of fame and success a writer or an actor must know his or her country's history: when and why these classic plays were written, who were the men who had the courage to speak out, and how they reflected their moment in American time. She encourages her student actors to be big, big as the country, to make the theater a forum for unpleasant truths rather than escapism and mindless entertainment, In the course of these talks, Stella is never too modest to remind you how bright, talented, sexy and irresistible she was; how he knew everyone who was anyone, and what she said to them and they said to her. Those who are not actors will delight in the backstage gossip, and the sense of excitement all those bright young people of her generation felt because they sincerely believed that their voices, their theater, would change the world. Reading the book, you are left with the feeling that once upon a time giants walked, if not the earth, at least on that stretch of New York City where plays were performed and people paid to learn about themselves. Those days may be over. Those who remember them or wish for their return will find no better guide book to America's golden age of theater than this amazing document of a life fully lived.