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The 1940s are the watershed decade of the twentieth century, a time of trauma and upheaval but also of innovation and profound and lasting cultural change. This is the era of Fat Man and Little Boy, of FDR and Stalin, but also of Casablanca and Citizen Kane, zoot suits and Christian Dior, Duke Ellington and Edith Piaf.
The 1940s were when The New Yorker came of age. A magazine that was best known for its humor and wry social observation would extend itself, offering the first in-depth reporting from Hiroshima and introducing American readers to the fiction of Vladimir Nabokov and the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop. In this enthralling book, masterly contributions from the pantheon of great writers who graced The New Yorker’s pages throughout the decade are placed in history by the magazine’s current writers.
Included in this volume are seminal profiles of the decade’s most fascinating figures: Albert Einstein, Marshal Pétain, Thomas Mann, Le Corbusier, Walt Disney, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Here are classics in reporting: John Hersey’s account of the heroism of a young naval lieutenant named John F. Kennedy; A. J. Liebling’s unforgettable depictions of the Fall of France and D Day; Rebecca West’s harrowing visit to a lynching trial in South Carolina; Lillian Ross’s sly, funny dispatch on the Miss America Pageant; and Joseph Mitchell’s imperishable portrait of New York’s foremost dive bar, McSorley’s.
This volume also provides vital, seldom-reprinted criticism. Once again, we are able to witness the era’s major figures wrestling with one another’s work as it appeared—George Orwell on Graham Greene, W. H. Auden on T. S. Eliot, Lionel Trilling on Orwell. Here are The New Yorker’s original takes on The Great Dictator and The Grapes of Wrath, and opening-night reviews of Death of a Salesman and South Pacific.
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