When the celebrated Welsh poet Dylan Thomas arrived in New York on his first visit in 1950, for a tour of poetry readings around the country, America didn’t know what had hit it. Angelic, devilish, immoral, charming, self-destructive, given to alcoholic binges, he was not what the sober world of American academe had expected. Students loved him—although after his first few encounters with them, the girls had to be protected. And he made quick friends with countless American writers, journalists, and barflies, instantly creating a pop-culture mythology of the doomed artist for the late 20th century. The man who was Thomas’ patron and guide was the young poet John Malcolm Brinnin, who watched horrified—though utterly beguiled by the poet’s charm and genius—at Thomas’ slow descent into hell. This is his harrowing account of the poet’s tragic last years.