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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
In our media-saturated age, where countless pundits and commentators drone on endlessly, saying little, it's refreshing to rediscover H. L. Mencken, whose unique style, brilliant wit, and withering criticism made him one of America's most influential writers and thinkers during the first half of the 20th century. Terry Teachout's biography is an enormously well researched and engaging journey from Mencken's boyhood in Baltimore through his days as a cub reporter to his founding of The American Mercury (one of the most influential magazines of the 1920s) and his eventual fall from prominence.
Best known for his lifelong association with The Baltimore Sun as an editor and columnist, Mencken was a critic with wide-ranging interests and no shortage of passionately held opinions (on FDR: "He had every quality that morons esteem in their heroes"). Mencken was equally comfortable (and caustic) writing about politics as he was in the realm of literature and the performing arts; and he helped introduce the American public to the likes of Joseph Conrad and Sinclair Lewis, as well as nurturing the early works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, and Willa Cather.
Teachout does a masterful job of putting Mencken's long career in the context of his times, including an unflinching analysis of Mencken's anti-Semitism and outspoken antipathy to American entry into World War II, as well as his controversial views on art and love. The Skeptic is a fascinating introduction to a contradictory figure who, in his day, was considered American's greatest journalist but who could never be called anything less than honest. (Winter 2002 Selection)