Richard Gray

From Columbus to Obama

A New Literary History of America

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Harvard University Press 1095pp £36.95 order from our bookshop

The title of A New Literary History of America is misleading, as Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors virtually admit in their introduction. ‘A literary history of America?’ they ask, and then go on to acknowledge that the more than two hundred essays making up this volume cover literature, certainly, but also music and the movies, the visual arts and politics, public events and legal landmarks. The book begins in 1507 with the naming of America; it ends with the election of Barack Obama. In between, writers jostle for attention with the Salem witchcraft trials, the farewell address of George Washington, the invention of the Winchester rifle, Mickey Mouse and Charlie Chaplin, Billie Holiday and Jackson Pollock, Some Like It Hot and Psycho

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