Bless the Beasts @ Childrenby Glendon Swarthout
Bless the Beasts & Children became Glendon Swarthout's biggest bestseller, selling over 3 million copies in North America and many more in foreign language editions, never out-of-print since 1970. It was a selection of the Literary Guild, the Doubleday Book Club, as well as a Reader's Digest condensed edition. This 25th anniversary edition has an Afterword by… See more details below
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Bless the Beasts & Children became Glendon Swarthout's biggest bestseller, selling over 3 million copies in North America and many more in foreign language editions, never out-of-print since 1970. It was a selection of the Literary Guild, the Doubleday Book Club, as well as a Reader's Digest condensed edition. This 25th anniversary edition has an Afterword by Glendon's son, Miles, which answers questions posed by young readers from their high school and college English classes across America over the years. Bless the Beasts was nominated by its hard cover publisher Doubleday as its Pulitzer Prize candidate for Fiction in its pulication year, 1970. The film by director Stanley Kramer in 1972 was not nearly as successful, but did contain the Oscar-nominated theme song by the Carpenters, and a bit of its soundtrack score was released as "Nadia's Theme," from the 1972 Olympics for the tiny gold medal-winning Romanian gymnast, and later as the theme music from CBS's long-running daytime soap opera, The Young and the Restless.
Based upon his son's adventures in high school as a summer camper and later a counselor at a private boys' ranch camp in Prescott, Arizona, Bless the Beasts & Children tells a tragicomic tale about a group of disturbed teenaged boys from over-privileged families who are "warehoused" by their inattentive parents at a summer session at an Arizona boys' camp in hopes that their lazy, urban kids will be toughened-up in this camp's rigorous cowboy program. While on a field trip with their militaristic counseler, Wheaties, the boys see an annual buffalo "hunt" sponsored by the Arizona Fish and Game Department, in which their counselor has drawn a permit. Sickened by the slaughter of these great beasts while trapped in big pens by these "sportsmen," the youths resolve to save the next days' allotment of 30 buffalo. Riding from their camp later that day on their horses, the boys steal a pickup in Prescott and head on up to Flagstaff on their mission-of-mercy. Complications arise, but these problem boys band together and manage to free these national symbols, the buffalo, but only after strenuous effort and at great cost.
Glendon Swarthout's more positive response to William Golding's classic novel, Lord of the Flies, and Golding's thesis that all men are basically beasts, stands as one of the first contemporary bestsellers to take up the cause of animal rights. Bless the Beasts remains to this day one of the few controversial novels which ever resulted in some political change and social good -- the Arizona legislature mandated changing the regulation of their annual buffalo hunt to more humane practices due to the student protests resulting from this book and film. Glendon's theme that even a group of misfit youths, if banded together in common cause, were capable of a great, heroic deed, still resonates strongly with American teenagers and their teachers, and this classic novel is still mandatory reading in many English literature classrooms across America today.
Here's a few more superb reviews Bless the Beasts & Children received --
"It's a novel no reader, once hooked, can put down. It is both tragically sad and funny, both nostalgic and frightenly contemporary. And it tells us something about our times that too many are trying to overlook. You shouldn't miss this one."
Nard Jones, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"Well-written, almost poetically sparse, author Swarthout's ninth book adds to his prestige the acclaim that he handles the characters of runaway kids every bit as easily as he maneuvered rebellious soldiers in They Came To Cordura."
Los Angeles Times Calendar
"The completion of their mission is heroic in the grand Swarthout manner -- and also in his manner, the ending leaves a king-sized lump in the reader's throat over the irony that bludgeons idealistic innocence."
Pat Hanna, Rocky Mountain News, Denver, Colorado
"When you read the book be prepared to laugh and cry. I cried more than I laughed. This outstanding novel will surely find a place on shelves of school libraries as well as those of all who are concerned with the young people who become dropouts, runaways and lost segments of society. In addition, it is fast-moving and easy to read. The students will wait in line to read it." Sioux Falls, Texas Argus-Leader
"This is Swarthout at his finest. He has told a tale about children without the triteness or cuteness that usually accompanies tales about children. These are real kids; products of an affluent American culture that furnishes children transistor radios and color televisions to ward off loneliness. It is a compactly told story, dreadful in its implications, yet filled with tender, bittersweet moments as six lonely teens struggle to find themselves and, at the same time, to affirm, ritualistically, the goodness of God." Frederic Kelly, New Haven, Connecticut Register
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Meet the Author
Glendon Swarthout died of emphysema in 1992 in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction by his publishers for They Came To Cordura (Random House) and Bless the Beasts & Children (Doubleday). Glendon did, however, write many bestsellers which were turned into 9 movies, an amazing Hollywood track record across a variety of genres. Glendon was awarded a Gold Medal from the National Association of Arts & Letters, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Western Writers of America. Some of the films based upon Glendon's stories were -- Seventh Cavalry (Columbia Pictures, Randolph Scott, 1956); They Came To Cordura (Columbia Pictures, Gary Cooper and Rita Hayworth, 1959); Where The Boys Are (MGM, George Hamilton and Connie Francis, 1960); Bless the Beasts & Children (Columbia Pictures, Stanley Kramer, 1972); The Shootist (Paramount Pictures, John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, 1976); A Christmas To Remember (CBS TV-Movie, Joanne Woodward and Jason Robards, 1978 --the novel is called A Christmas Gift); The Homesman (Europa Pictures, Tommy Lee Jones, Meryl Streep, Hilary Swank, John Malkovich, 2014).
More about Glendon Swarthout's 23 novels, plus movie stills and film trailers from his 9 films, and a family biography are available on his fancy literary website -- www.glendonswarthout.com The Swarthout family writers can also be found in an entry on Wikipedia under "Glendon Swarthout."
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