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David Blake '85
(Yale University Press)
What is the relationship between poetry and fame? What happens to a reader's experience when a poem invokes its author's popularity? Is there a meaningful connection between poetry and advertising, between the rhetoric of lyric and the rhetoric of hype? One of the first full-scale treatments of celebrity in 19th-century America, this book examines Walt Whitman's lifelong interest in fame and publicity.
Making use of notebooks, photographs, and archival sources, Blake provides a groundbreaking history of the rise of celebrity culture in the United States. He sees Leaves of Grass alongside the birth of commercial advertising and the nation's growing obsession with the lives of the famous and the renowned. As authors, lecturers, politicians, entertainers, and clergymen vied for popularity, Whitman developed a form of poetry that routinely promoted and, indeed, celebrated itself. Walt Whitman and the Culture of American Celebrity proposes a fundamentally new way of thinking about a seminal American poet and a major national icon.
Julie M. Fenster '79
(Three Rivers Press)
Race of the Century: The Heroic True Story of the 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race describes how, on the morning of February 12, 1908, six cars from four different countries lined up in Times Square. Among the men who competed in the race were an international roster of personalities: a charismatic Norwegian outdoorsman, a witty French nobleman, and a pair of Italian sophisticates. At a time when most people had never seen an automobile, the men set their course over mountain ranges, through Arctic freeze, and desert heat. There were no gas stations, no garages, and no replacement parts in case of emergency.
Two men rose to the top. Ober-lieutenant Hans Koeppen led the German team in their canvas-topped 40-horsepower Protos. His counterpart on the U.S. team was George Schuster, a blue-collar mechanic in a lightweight 60-horsepower Thomas Flyer. Ultimately, the German and the American would be left alone in the race, fighting the elements, exhaustion, and each other until the winning car's glorious entrance into Paris, on July 30, 1908.
Bob Luke '63
(McFarland and Co.)
Hall of Fame umpire Bill McGowan controlled the field of play as much with his personality as with the rulebook; his respected 30-year career, including 2,532 consecutive games, was among the longest in baseball history. McGowan was the home plate umpire in the first-ever American League pennant playoff game, Cleveland versus Boston in 1948. Famous for his sense of humor, great dramatics, and wild gestures, he was known to turn a strike into a ball if he thought a player deserved a break, or to eject half a team if they annoyed him.
This illustrated biography gives an intimate view of the umpire, from his birth in 1896 and long marriage to his death from diabetes in 1954. Through research including interviews with former players as well as family members, Dean of Umpires: A Biography of Bill McGowan, 1896-1954 provides anecdotes and insights into his profession.
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