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Bret Harte once wrote, "Bohemia has never been located geographically," a statement that some might find odd because Harte himself had been associated with not one, but two major bohemian uprisings: one in lower Manhattan and the other in San Francisco. But as Ben Tarnoff's brilliant new history reveals, Harte was both right and wrong: Literary Bohemia is both locale-specific and inextricably connected with all the others. Thus, The Bohemians displays a rich literary movement in the act of blooming even as it shows how the four writers it features (Mark Twain, Harte, Ina Coolbrith, and Charles Warren Stoddard) changed the face of our national culture. Tarnoff's subject is fascinating, but I would be remiss if I failed to mention his nuanced, even poetic writing. More than once I paid his prose the ultimate compliment: To linger on its rich cadences and metaphors, I read entire passages aloud myself.
—R.J. Wilson, Bookseller, #1002, New York NY