Best American books, part 3

   

executioner's songTHE EXECUTIONER’S SONG, Norman Mailer

Norman Mailer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning and unforgettable classic about convicted killer Gary Gilmore now in a brand-new edition.

Arguably the greatest book from America’s most heroically ambitious writer, THE EXECUTIONER’S SONG follows the short, blighted life of Gary Gilmore who became famous after he robbed two men in 1976 and killed them in cold blood. After being tried and convicted, he immediately insisted on being executed for his crime. To do so, he fought a system that seemed intent on keeping him alive long after it had sentenced him to death. And that fight for the right to die is what made him famous.

Mailer tells not only Gilmore’s story, but those of the men and women caught in the web of his life and drawn into his procession toward the firing squad. All with implacable authority, steely compassion, and a restraint that evokes the parched landscape and stern theology of Gilmore’s Utah. THE EXECUTIONER’S SONG is a trip down the wrong side of the tracks to the deepest source of American loneliness and violence. It is a towering achievement-impossible to put down, impossible to forget.

 

book, fateful triangleTHE FATEFUL TRIANGLE,  Noam Chomsky

The United States, Israel and the Palestinians.

From its establishment till the present day, Israel has enjoyed a special position in the American roster of international friends. In The Fateful Triangle, Noam Chomsky explores the character and historical development of this special relationship as well as its impact on the fate of the Palestinian people.

The crises will be serious in what President Eisenhower called “the most strategically important area in the world.” In the early post-War years, the United States in effect extended the Monroe Doctrine to the Middle East, barring any interference apart from Britain, assumed to be a loyal dependency and quickly punished when it occasionally got out of hand (as in 1956).

The strategic importance of the region lies primarily in its immense petroleum reserves and the global power accorded by control over them; and, crucially, from the huge profits that flow to the Anglo-American rulers, which have been of critical importance for their economies. It has been necessary to ensure that this enormous wealth flows primarily to the West, not to the people of the region. That is one fundamental problem that will continue to cause unrest and disorder. Another is the Israel-Arab conflict with its many ramifications, which have been closely related to the major U.S. strategic goal of dominating the region’s resources and wealth.

 

feminine mystiqueTHE FEMININE MYSTIQUE,  Betty Friedan

Landmark, groundbreaking, classic—these adjectives barely describe the earthshaking and long-lasting effects of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. This is the book that defined “the problem that has no name,” that launched the Second Wave of the feminist movement, and has been awakening women and men with its insights into social relations, which still remain fresh, ever since. A national bestseller, with over 1 million copies sold.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the publication.

 

book cover fire next timeTHE FIRE NEXT TIME,  James Baldwin

It’s shocking how little has changed between the races in this country since 1963, when James Baldwin published this coolly impassioned plea to “end the racial nightmare.” The Fire Next Time–even the title is beautiful, resonant, and incendiary. “Do I really want to be integrated into a burning house?” Baldwin demands, flicking aside the central race issue of his day and calling instead for full and shared acceptance of the fact that America is and always has been a multiracial society. Without this acceptance, he argues, the nation dooms itself to “sterility and decay” and to eventual destruction at the hands of the oppressed: “The Negroes of this country may never be able to rise to power, but they are very well placed indeed to precipitate chaos and ring down the curtain on the American dream.”

Baldwin’s seething insights and directives, so disturbing to the white liberals and black moderates of his day, have become the starting point for discussions of American race relations: that debasement and oppression of one people by another is “a recipe for murder”; that “color is not a human or a personal reality; it is a political reality”; that whites can only truly liberate themselves when they liberate blacks, indeed when they “become black” symbolically and spiritually; that blacks and whites “deeply need each other here” in order for America to realize its identity as a nation.

Yet despite its edgy tone and the strong undercurrent of violence, The Fire Next Time is ultimately a hopeful and healing essay. Baldwin ranges far in these hundred pages–from a memoir of his abortive teenage religious awakening in Harlem (an interesting commentary on his first novel Go Tell It on the Mountain) to a disturbing encounter with Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad. But what binds it all together is the eloquence, intimacy, and controlled urgency of the voice. Baldwin clearly paid in sweat and shame for every word in this text. What’s incredible is that he managed to keep his cool. –David Laskin

 

Book, the fountainheadTHE FOUNTAINHEAD, Ayn Rand

The Fountainhead has become an enduring piece of literature, more popular now than when published in 1943. On the surface, it is a story of one man, Howard Roark, and his struggles as an architect in the face of a successful rival, Peter Keating, and a newspaper columnist, Ellsworth Toohey.

But the book addresses a number of universal themes: the strength of the individual, the tug between good and evil, the threat of fascism. The confrontation of those themes, along with the amazing stroke of Rand’s writing, combine to give this book its enduring influence.

 

book cover, grapes of wrathTHE GRAPES OF WRATH,  John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 is the story of the experiences of the Joad family from the time of their eviction from a farm near Sallisaw, Oklahoma to their first winter in California.

Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on the Joads, a poor family of tenant farmers driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in financial and agricultural industries. Due to their nearly hopeless situation, and in part because they were trapped in the Dust Bowl, the Joads set out for California. Along with thousands of other “Okies”, they sought jobs, land, dignity, and a future.

The Grapes of Wrath is frequently read in American high school and college literature classes due to its historical context and enduring legacy. The novel has little plot in the ordinary sense. It has thirty chapters, fourteen of which deal with the Joad story. The other sixteen chapters, called interchapters, are not part of the narrative about the Joads. They are, instead, essays dealing with the larger significance of the situation in which the Joads find themselves. These chapters utilize the material that Steinbeck had found in his visits to the migrant camps and his observations of the general situation of drought and depression.

 

bookTHE GREAT GATSBY

F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers.

The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.

 

book cover Heart is lonely hunterTHE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER, Carson Mccullers

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter was Carson McCullers’ first novel, written in 1940. Set in a small town in the American South, it is the story of a group of people who have little in common except that they are all hopelessly lonely. A young girl, a drunken socialist and a black doctor are drawn to a gentle, sympathetic deaf mute, whose presence changes their lives.

This powerful exploration of alienation is both moving and perceptive.

 

 

cover on bookTHE KEY TO UNCLE TOM’S CABIN

Harriet Beecher Stowe

This book contains 19th century abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe’s (1811-1896) most famous novel, UNCLE TOM’S CABIN. Set in the South in the antebellum 1850s, the novel depicted the life of several slaves and their harsh treatment by Simon Legree, a vicious slaveowner.

While energizing the abolition movement in the North, the novel angered many in the South who pointed out that Beecher Stowe had never even visited the areas she wrote about, and much of the book was actually written in Brunswick, Maine. In response to critics, Beecher Stowe later wrote THE KEY TO UNCLE TOM’S CABIN, in which she attempted to mollify her critics by discussing her inspiration and sources for UNCLE TOM’S CABIN.

This book contains 19th century abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe’s (1811-1896) most famous novel, UNCLE TOM’S CABIN. Set in the South in the antebellum 1850s, the novel depicted the life of several slaves and their harsh treatment by Simon Legree, a vicious slaveowner.

While energizing the abolition movement in the North, the novel angered many in the South who pointed out that Beecher Stowe had never even visited the areas she wrote about, and much of the book was actually written in Brunswick, Maine. In response to critics, Beecher Stowe later wrote THE KEY TO UNCLE TOM’S CABIN, in which she attempted to mollify her critics by discussing her inspiration and sources for UNCLE TOM’S CABIN.

 

 

ledgend sleepy hollowTHE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW

Washington Irving

‘There was a contagion in the very air that blew from that haunted region; it breathed forth an atmosphere of dreams and fancies infecting all the land.’

Featuring ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ and ‘Rip Van Winkle’, this collection of inspired essays, stories and sketches established Washington Irving’s reputation as one of America’s foremost authors. Irving’s timeless characters, including Ichabod Crane, Rip Van Winkle and the headless Hessian trooper, jostle for space alongside 31 equally atmospheric and lyrical works in this haunting anthology from one of America’s most distinctive literary voices.

 

book, photo

THE LOVELY BONES,  Alice Sebold

“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. My murderer was a man from our neighborhood. My mother liked his border flowers, and my father talked to him once about fertilizer.”

This is Susie Salmon. Watching from heaven, Susie sees her happy suburban family devastated by her death, isolated even from one another as they each try to cope with their terrible loss alone. Over the years, her friends and siblings grow up, fall in love, do all the things she never had the chance to do herself. But life is not quite finished with Susie yet…

The Lovely Bones is a luminous and astonishing novel about life and death, forgiveness and vengeance, memory and forgetting – but, above all, about finding light in the darkest of places

 

book coverTHE NAKED AND THE DEAD,  Norman Mailer

Widely considered the greatest American novel written about World War II, and perhaps about any war, The Naked and the Dead secured Norman Mailer’s position, at only twenty-five, as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.

Based on the author’s own experience, it is a spellbinding account of a platoon of American soldiers in brutal combat to reclaim a Pacific island held by the Japanese and to face the unimaginable, within and without.

 

 

 

nurture assumptionTHE NURTURE ASSUMPTION,  Steven Pinker, Judith Rich Harris

 

How much credit do parents deserve when their children turn out well? How much blame when they turn out badly? Judith Rich Harris has a message that will change parents’ lives: The “nurture assumption” — the belief that what makes children turn out the way they do, aside from their genes, is the way their parents bring them up — is nothing more than a cultural myth. This electrifying book explodes some of our unquestioned beliefs about children and parents and gives us a radically new view of childhood.

Harris looks with a fresh eye at the real lives of real children to show that it is what they experience outside the home, in the company of their peers, that matters most. Parents don’t socialize children; children socialize children. With eloquence and humor, Judith Harris explains why parents have little power to determine the sort of people their children will become.

“The Nurture Assumption” is an important and entertaining work that brings together insights from psychology, sociology, anthropology, primatology, and evolutionary biology to offer a startling new view of who we are and how we got that way.

 

old man and sea-THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA
Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea was written in 1951 in Cuba, and published in 1952. It was the last major work of fiction to be produced by Hemingway and published in his lifetime. One of his most famous works, it centers upon Santiago, an aging fisherman who struggles with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream.

The Old Man and the Sea was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953 and was cited by the Nobel Committee as contributing to the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Hemingway in 1954.

 

 

the-passion-of-ayn-randTHE PASSION OF AYN RAND,  Barbara Branden


The Passion of Ayn Rand was an unauthorized biography intended to replace an earlier, authorized essay about Rand’s life that Branden had written for the 1962 book Who Is Ayn Rand? Branden drew in part on the same audiotaped interviews with Rand that she had conducted for the earlier project. The Passion of Ayn Rand also made the first public revelation of the affair between Rand and Nathaniel Branden.

In an interview, Branden said that she had undertaken the book in part “to rescue [Rand] from the need to be godlike. As I wrote, she was much more than that: she was a human being and a woman …. it is only in that context that Objectivism can be separated from its founder and its supporters and be seen as a philosophy which stands or falls by its own relationship to reality – not by the virtues or vices of those who espouse it.

Barbara Branden was a close associate of Rand’s for 18 years. She and her husband, Nathaniel Branden, were leading figures in the Objectivist movement based on Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, and they operated the Nathaniel Branden Institute to promote Objectivism. In 1954, Rand began an extramarital affair with Nathaniel Branden. The breakdown of Rand’s relationship with Nathaniel Branden in 1968 coincided with the closure of the Nathaniel Branden Institute and the expulsion of both Nathaniel and Barbara Branden from Rand’s circle.

 

 

scarlet letterTHE SCARLET LETTER,  Nathaniel Hawthorne

It is 1642 in the Puritan town of Boston. Hester Prynne has been found guilty of adultery and has born an illegitimate child. In lieu of being put to death, she is condemned to wear the scarlet letter “A” on her dress as a reminder of her shameful act.

Hester’s husband had been lost at sea years earlier and was presumed dead, but now reappears in time to witness Hester’s humiliation on the town scaffold. Upon discovering her deed, the vengeful husband becomes obsessed with finding the identity of the man who dishonored his wife. To do so he assumes a false name, pretends to be a physician and forces Hester keep his new identity secret. Meanwhile Hester’s lover, the beloved Reverend Dimmesdale, publicly pressures her to name the child’s father, while secretly praying that she will not. Hester defiantly protects his identity and reputation, even while faced with losing her daughter, Pearl.

Hailed by Henry James as, “the finest piece of imaginative writing yet put forth in the country,” Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is a masterful portrayal of humanity’s continuing struggle with sin, guilt and pride.

The Scarlet Letter is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic tale of love, adversity, and community morals in Puritan New England.

 

 

sea around usTHE SEA AROUND US,  Rachel L. Carson

Rachel Carson effortlessly mingles detailed fieldwork and inspiring prose to reveal a deep understanding of the earth’s most precious, mysterious resource—the ocean

With more than one million copies sold, Rachel Carson’s The Sea Around Us became a cultural phenomenon when first published in 1951 and cemented Carson’s status as the preeminent natural history writer of her time. Her inspiring, intimate writing plumbs the depths of an enigmatic world—a place of hidden lands, islands newly risen from the earth’s crust, fish that pour through the water, and the unyielding, epic battle for survival.

Firmly based in the scientific discoveries of the time, The Sea Around Us masterfully presents Carson’s commitment to a healthy planet and a fully realized sense of wonder.

 

 

souls of black folk--THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK
W. E. B. Du Bois

The Souls of Black Folk is a classic work of American literature by W. E. B. Du Bois. It is a seminal work in the history of sociology, and a cornerstone of African-American literary history.

The book, published in 1903, contains several essays on race, some of which had been previously published in Atlantic Monthly magazine. Du Bois drew from his own experiences to develop this groundbreaking work on being African-American in American society. Outside of its notable place in African-American history, The Souls of Black Folk also holds an important place in social science as one of the early works to deal with sociology.

 

 

sound and fury--THE SOUND AND THE FURY
William Faulkner

The Sound and the Fury is set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County. The novel centers on the Compson family, former Southern aristocrats who are struggling to deal with the dissolution of their family and its reputation. Over the course of the thirty years or so related in the novel, the family falls into financial ruin, loses its religious faith and the respect of the town of Jefferson, and many of them die tragically.

The novel is separated into four distinct sections. The first, April 7, 1928, is written from the perspective of Benjamin “Benjy” Compson, a 33-year-old man with severe mental handicaps. Benjy’s section is characterized by a highly disjointed narrative style with frequent chronological leaps. The second section, June 2, 1910, focuses on Quentin Compson, Benjy’s older brother, and the events leading up to his suicide. In the third section, April 6, 1928, Faulkner writes from the point of view of Jason, Quentin’s cynical younger brother. In the fourth and final section, set a day after the first, on April 8, 1928, Faulkner introduces a third person omniscient point of view.

The last section primarily focuses on Dilsey, one of the Compson’s black servants. Jason is also a focus in the section, but Faulkner presents glimpses of the thoughts and deeds of everyone in the family. The reader may also wish to look in The Portable Faulkner for a four-page history of the Compson family. Faulkner said afterwards that he wished he had written the history at the same time he wrote The Sound and the Fury.

 

 

the standTHE STAND,  Stephen King

Stephen King’s apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by plague and tangled in an elemental struggle between good and evil remains as riveting and eerily plausible as when it was first published.

A patient escapes from a biological testing facility, unknowingly carrying a deadly weapon: a mutated strain of super-flu that will wipe out 99 percent of the world’s population within a few weeks. Those who remain are scared, bewildered, and in need of a leader. Two emerge—Mother Abagail, the benevolent 108-year-old woman who urges them to build a peaceful community in Boulder, Colorado; and Randall Flagg, the nefarious “Dark Man,” who delights in chaos and violence. As the dark man and the peaceful woman gather power, the survivors will have to choose between them—and ultimately decide the fate of all humanity.

 

tell tale heartTHE TELL-TALE HEART AND OTHER WRITINGS,  Edgar Allan Poe

Readers will recognize their favorite horror stories in the collection “The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings.” Edgar Allen Poe was a master of suspense, horror, and mystery, and his stories, while truly terrifying, are also delightfully entertaining. In “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the narrator has just killed a man and buried him under his floor. As he sits right above the body, he begins to hear the dead man’s heart thumping loudly in his ears. Guilt and paranoia flood the narrator, and the audience experiences the narrator’s plunge into madness as his fears begin to manifest.

Many of Poe’s other popular works are included in the anthology, such as “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Cask of Amontillado.” Murder is a theme in both the works, though Poe executes his characters in decidedly different ways. Still, madness, anger, and retribution all make their way into the majority of Poe’s works. Also in the collection are select poems such as “Lenore” and “The Raven.” Both stories tell tales of death and lost love about two different women named Lenore; Poe’s poems mourn these characters, making his words even more poetic and poignant. He speaks through his verses to convey his devastated feelings of despair. For these and all the included works, “The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings” is a must-have for every horror or suspense fan.

 

 

thin man-THE THIN MAN

Dashiell Hammett

Nick and Nora Charles are Hammett’s most enchanting creations, a rich, glamorous couple who solve homicides in between wisecracks and martinis. At once knowing and unabashedly romantic, The Thin Man is a murder mystery that doubles as a sophisticated comedy of manners.

Although he never wrote a sequel, the book became the basis for a successful six-part film series which also began in 1934 with The Thin Man and starred William Powell and Myrna Loy. A Thin Man television series followed in the 1950s. The Thin Man was Hammett’s last novel.

 

 

the time of our timeTHE TIME OF OUR TIME

Norman Mailer

Norman Mailer’s The Time of Our Time is a giant retrospective, a rich, boisterous portrait of our times seen through the fiction and reportage of one of America’s greatest writers.

Mailer selected and edited the contents of this work to create an ongoing narrative of events large and small that have shaped America over the last fifty years. Included are passages from The Naked and the Dead, The Deer Park, An American Dream, The Armies of the Night, The Executioner’s Song, Ancient Evenings, and Harlot’s Ghost as well as portraits of Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, Truman Capote, JFK, Marilyn Monroe, Lee Harvey Oswald, Madonna, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and Richard Nixon as they appeared in some of his best magazine pieces. How readable is the result! It is as if one is being drawn into a fabulous novel with extraordinary characters, real and fictional, who appear and reappear through the years until a vast mural of America as a nation comes into focus, full of follies and blunders, surprisingly elegant and often crazy–tragic in its losses and large in its triumphs.

On display here are Mailer’s enormous energies, his vast curiosity, and his powers of delineation. Here too are his errors of judgment and deed, both personal and literary. As a writer, Mailer eschews all limits. He goes at the world like a tiger. What will surprise many readers of The Time of Our Time is what a shrewd and stylish tiger he has been.

 

 

THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS

Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand here sets forth the moral principles of Objectivism, the philosophy that holds man’s life–the life proper to a rational being–as the standard of moral values and regards altruism as incompatible with man’s nature, with the creative requirements of his survival, and with a free society.

 

 

 

 

 

women's roomTHE WOMEN’S ROOM,  Marilyn French

The twenty-one-million copy bestseller is available again for a new generation of readers. Originally published in 1977, The Women’s Room was a novel that-for the first time-expressed the inner lives of women who left education and professional advancement behind to marry in the 1950s, only to find themselves adrift and unable to support themselves after divorce in the 1970s. Some became destitute, a few went insane. But many went back to school in the heyday of the Women’s Liberation movement, and were swept up in the promise of equality for both sexes.

Marilyn French’s characters represent this wide cross section of American women, and her wry and pointed voice gives depth and emotional intensity to this timeless book that remains controversial and completely relevant.

 

young lions-THE YOUNG LIONS,  Irwin Shaw

The Young Lions is a vivid and classic novel that portrays the experiences of ordinary soldiers fighting World War II. Told from the points of view of a perceptive young Nazi, a jaded American film producer, and a shy Jewish boy just married to the love of his life, Shaw conveys, as no other novelist has since, the scope, confusion, and complexity of war.

 

 

 

 

 

their eyes were watching god--THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD,  Zora Neale Hurston

Their eyes were watching God is one of the very greatest American novels of the 20th century. It is so lyrical it should be sentimental; it is so passionate it should be overwrought, but it is instead a rigorous, convincing and dazzling piece of prose, as emotionally satisfying as it is impressive.

One of the most important works of twentieth-century American literature, Zora Neale Hurston’s beloved 1937 classic, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is an enduring Southern love story sparkling with wit, beauty, and heartfelt wisdom. Told in the captivating voice of a woman who refuses to live in sorrow, bitterness, fear, or foolish romantic dreams, it is the story of fair-skinned, fiercely independent Janie Crawford, and her evolving selfhood through three marriages and a life marked by poverty, trials, and purpose. A true literary wonder, Hurston’s masterwork remains as relevant and affecting today as when it was first published — perhaps the most widely read and highly regarded novel in the entire canon of African-American literature.

 

to-kill-a-mockingbirdTO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD,  Harper Lee

“Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” A lawyer’s advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic novel—a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unswerving honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s.

The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina and quiet heroism of one man’s struggle for justice—but the weight of history will only tolerate so much.

One of the best-loved classics of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has earned many distinctions since its original publication in 1960. It has won the Pulitzer Prize, been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than forty million copies worldwide, and been made into an enormously popular movie. It was also named the best novel of the twentieth century by librarians across the country (Library Journal).

 

 

tobacco rdTOBACCO ROAD,  Erskine Caldwell

Set during the Depression in the depleted farmlands surrounding Augusta, Georgia, Tobacco Road was first published in 1932. It is the story of the Lesters, a family of white sharecroppers so destitute that most of their creditors have given up on them.

Debased by poverty to an elemental state of ignorance and selfishness, the Lesters are preoccupied by their hunger, sexual longings, and fear that they will someday descend to a lower rung on the social ladder than the black families who live near them.

 

 

USAU.S.A: THE 42ND PARALLEL / 1919 / THE BIG MONEY (Trilogy),  John Dos Passos

Unique for its epic scale and panoramic social sweep, Dos Passos’ masterpiece comprises three novels–“The 42nd Parallel”(1930), “1919,” (1932), and “The Big Money” (1936 –which create an unforgettable collective portrait of modern America. Dos Passos used experimental techniques in these novels, incorporating newspaper clippings, autobiography, biography and fictional realism to paint a vast landscape of American culture during the first decades of the 20th century.

Though each novel stands on its own, the trilogy is designed to be read as a whole. Dos Passos’s political and social reflections in the novel are deeply pessimistic about the political and economic direction of the United States, and few of the characters manage to hold onto their ideals through the First World War.

 

waldenWALDEN and CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE,  Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau was an American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and leading transcendentalist. He is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state.

Thoreau’s books, articles, essays, journals, and poetry total over 20 volumes. Among his lasting contributions were his writings on natural history and philosophy, where he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern day environmentalism.

His literary style interweaves close natural observation, personal experience, pointed rhetoric, symbolic meanings, and historical lore, while displaying a poetic sensibility, philosophical austerity, and “Yankee” love of practical detail. He was also deeply interested in the idea of survival in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and natural decay; at the same time he advocated abandoning waste and illusion in order to discover life’s true essential needs.

 

we the livingWE THE LIVING,  Ayn Rand

We the Living is the first novel published by the Russian-American novelist Ayn Rand. It was also Rand’s first statement against communism. First published in 1936, it is a story of life in post-revolutionary Russia.

Rand observes in the foreword to this book that We the Living was the closest she would ever come to writing an autobiography. This is a philosophical novel from Russian-born Ayn Rand, who was known for her belief in the concept of “enlightened self-interest.” It portrays the impact of the Russian Revolution on three human beings who demand the right to live their own lives and pursue their own happiness.

   

 

 

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