American Literacy

American Literacy

by J. North Conway

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Conway, teacher and humorist, here sketches background information on the writers of 50 published works that he believes have had the greatest impact on American society. The selections are a combination of the author's personal preference and the results of a survey which questioned such distinguished Americans as former president Jimmy Carter and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. While most of the literature is book length, Conway also includes The Man with the Hoe (1899) and several influential essays--for example, Thoreau's Civil Disobedience (1849). Several choices deal with societal ills: Helen Hunt Jackson's A Century of Dishonor (1881), which detailed the mistreatment of Native Americans, and The Octopus (1901), a novel by Frank Norris focusing on the negative impact of the railroads. Disappointingly, the most recent selection is dated 1971, Daniel Ellsberg's The Pentagon Papers . And although Conway describes each title and profiles the author, his thesis would have been strengthened by excerpts of the selections. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Helped by a 1992 survey aimed at identifying influential books, Conway here comments on 50 titles that have had a significant ``impact on American society'': e.g., Tom Paine's Common Sense , Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin , Fannie Farmer's Cook Book , and Daniel Ellsworth's Pentagon Papers . For each, Conway (Katherine Gibbs Sch., Boston) provides a brief summary of contemporary happenings, an essay describing the impact, and a cursory summary of the author's life. His selections are fair enough, and his contentis accurate if simplified. His style, though rhapsodic, is disjointed because the chapters are not tied together by a common thread. The result has echoes of headlines: `` Uncle Tom's Cabin was written in reverse order!'' Despite these quibbles, this book might well inspire readers to seek out the original texts. A good choice for public and school libraries.-- Peter Dollard, Alma Coll. Lib., Mich.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
5.79(w) x 8.54(h) x 1.12(d)

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