In 1957--long before colleges awarded degrees in creative nonfiction and back when newspaper writing's reputation was tainted by the fish it wrapped--Princeton began honoring talented literary journalists. Since then, fifty-nine of the finest, most dedicated, and most decorated nonfiction writers have held the Ferris and McGraw professorships. ...
In 1957--long before colleges awarded degrees in creative nonfiction and back when newspaper writing's reputation was tainted by the fish it wrapped--Princeton began honoring talented literary journalists. Since then, fifty-nine of the finest, most dedicated, and most decorated nonfiction writers have held the Ferris and McGraw professorships. This monumental volume harbors their favorite and often most influential works. Each contribution is rewarding reading, and collectively the selections validate journalism's ascent into the esteem of the academy and the reading public. Necessarily eclectic and delightfully idiosyncratic, the fifty-nine pieces are long and short, political and personal, comic and deadly serious. Students will be provoked by William Greider's pointed critique of the democracy industry, eerily entertained by Leslie Cockburn's fraternization with the Cali cartel, inspired by David K. Shipler's thoughts on race, unsettled by Haynes Johnson's account of Bay of Pigs survivors, and moved by Lucinda Frank's essay on a mother fighting to save a child born with birth defects. Many of the essays are finely crafted portraits: Charlotte Grimes's biography of her grandmother, Blair Clark's obituary for Robert Lowell, and Jane Kramer's affecting story of a woman hero of the French Resistance. Other contributions to savor include Harrison Salisbury on the siege of Leningrad, Landon Jones on the 1950s, Christopher Wren on Soviet mountaineering, James Gleick on technology, Gloria Emerson on Vietnam, Gina Kolata on Fermat's last theorem, and Roger Mudd on the media. Whether approached chronologically, thematically, randomly, or, as the editors order them, more intuitively, each suggests a perfect evening reading. Designed for students as well as general readers, "The Princeton Anthology of Writing" splendidly attests to the elegance, eloquence, and endurance of fine nonfiction.
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Publishers Weekly, 2001-07-23 In his preface to this eclectic collection of more than four dozen pieces of literary journalism, McPhee concedes that it lacks a unifying theme other than the simple fact that the various authors have all taught at Princeton. Further, he allowed the contributors to select from their own work the piece to be included. As a result, the end product is a volume meant for browsing rather than reading not necessarily a bad thing. Far from it, with contributors as distinguished as Victor Navasky, Geoffrey Wolff, Harrison Salisbury and Francine du Plessix Gray, not to mention McPhee himself, virtually all of the pieces included have their virtues. But are they all many of them pieces of time-bound journalism worth rereading? For instance, Gina Kolata includes a brief New York Times report on the cloning of the sheep Dolly without considering the long-range implications of the feat. Fortunately, most of the pieces withstand the passage of time better. Haynes Johnson's description of what happened to certain of the American pawns in the wake of the Bay of Pigs invasion remains as compelling today as when it appeared more than 30 years ago. Likewise, Harrison Salisbury's reporting on the Nazi siege of Leningrad is of continuing interest, as are Blair Clark's recollections of the poet Robert Lowell. Other pieces, like Francine du Plessix Gray's description of the second Nixon inauguration, continue to hold our interest because they evoke a certain nostalgia for passions long since forgotten. Despite the good writing, though, the primary audience for this volume will be students of nonfiction, those reading for style rather than content. (Aug.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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