With 1919, the second volume of his U.S.A. trilogy, John Dos Passos continues his "vigorous and sweeping panorama of 20th-century America" (Forum), lauded on publication of the first volume not only for its scope but also for its groundbreaking style. Again employing a host of experimental devices that would inspire a whole new generation of writers to follow, Dos Passos captures the many textures, flavors, and background noises of modern life with a cinematic touch and unparalleled nerve.
The novel opens to find America and the world at war, and Dos Passos's characters, many of whom we met in the first volume, are thrown into the snarl. We follow the daughter of a Chicago minister, a wide-eyed Texas girl, a young poet, and a radical Jew, and we glimpse Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Unknown Soldier.
©1932, 1959 John Dos Passos (P)2010 Tantor
Former steelworker from Buffalo NY retired after 40 yrs. as a Registered Nurse. Viet Vet, did a lot of theater in HS... e-Clectic for sure
This is the second book in a huge trilogy. I read it withought reading the other book first. If you really want to invest a massive allotment of time I'd read them in order. Wiki the author and you might even start with a smaller monograph prior to this writing.
I like this style characters sketches and stories of real people living life up hill. He captures, like the faded sepia photos of the dust bowl farmers , the character and times his actors are living in. The action is believable and the emotions true.
His narrative is punctuated with real news flashes and song and a variety of period headlines which complement the naratives of the protagnists. At a later date I'll explore the other writings of this lesser known contemporary of Hemmingway, and Fitsgerald.
Seriously entertaining, enchanting.
It was too long to listen to again and there was nothing in particular I would want more insight or clarification.
Most every review has already said it. The trilogy really is a great panoramic view of America at the beginning of the 20th century. There are some real historical events in the book, but even the fictional events are just as good as facts because they paint what at least seems to be a very true picture of the way things were.
No characters really standout. I think that was intentional. Many are weaved in and out at different points of the book without specific focus on any particular characters. The characters are really archetypes, e.g. the ad man represents all ad men and the secretary represents all secretaries (somehow in a unique and timeless way)
The U.S.A. Trilogy really is one long, seamless book, but the way it is written, you can read any one of the books without needing to read the others and feel like you had a full story. In my opinion, 1919 was the best because it was the most eventful. The 42nd Parallel was good too and did a good job of setting up the trilogy, especially 1919. The last book, Big Money, was a little slow and repetitive to me. I would only recommend reading that book if you are really in love with the characters and need to find out what happens with the rest of their story.
Second volume of Dos Passos' inventive narrative of the burgeoning America set in and around WWI, with the same 4 disparate modes of narration. We meet new fictional characters introduced with some reminisce of first novel's players such as Moorehouse, Janey, and Stoddard. The theme of individuals trapped and displaced by the tsunami of social events and times continue to pervade.
The years are optimistic. Nearly a century ago, the hope expressed by the Americans as they embark in their careers contains some hope, despite Dos Passos' detached and cruel gaze.
Ben Compton's labor activism, as he leaves New York and seeks to organize Wobblies in the West. This is still an overlooked episode in our nation's struggle for equality and dignity for workers, and his story shows the difficulty of making high ideals come true on a local level against Capital.
The grainy, gritty American voices he dramatizes and the Camera Eye and Newsreels sections, difficult to energize, come alive in his command of American vernaculars and period 1920s slang.
We're in the money.
While the fun of the "42nd Parallel" fades as reality spurs some of the figures here to compromise, this is nonetheless somewhat happier than the last segment, "The Big Money" that wears out its welcome as the prosperity some of its characters find fails to bring them or us much satisfaction.
I found it difficult to keep going with this one. The interjection of innumerable headlines and bits of newsreel reports became tedious, and I really hated the narrator.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.