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Operating in every state in the union for eight turbulent years, the New Deal's Federal Writers' Project provided needed jobs for more than 10,000 writers and would-be writers (among them Saul Bellow, Ralph Ellison, and Richard Wright) and produced some 1,200 published books and pamphlets, including the magnificent American Guide Series, which gave the nation its first self-portrait. Nominated for the National Book Award in history, The Dream and the Deal is once more available to a new generation of readers, and includes a selected checklist of 400 Writers' Project publications.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780815604150
ISBN-10: 0815604157
Format: Paperback
(230mm x 153mm x 23mm)
Pages: 416
Imprint: Syracuse University Press
Publisher: Syracuse University Press
Publish Date: 30-Sep-1996
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions


US Kirkus Review » Officially the WPA's Writers' Project liked to portray itself as "the biggest, fastest, most original research job in the history of the world" but the reality was something else again. Until its demise in 1943, a casualty of the war and Congressional witch-hunts, it functioned - in a boozy, idealistic, chaotic fashion - as a sanctuary for scriveners. Novelists, poets, hacks, unemployed Ph.D.s, journalists, bohemians and local eccentrics rubbed elbows with the likes of Heywood Broun, Richard Wright, Nelson Algren, Kenneth Rexroth, Conrad Aiken, John Cheerer, Saul Bellow and Loren Eiseley. Mangione, a project director, surveys this unprecedented experiment in cooperative scholarship in a book which is a marvelous blend of administrative history studded with New Deal personalities and personal memoir steeped in the gemeinschaft of the disaffected intelligentsia of the '30's. Headed by a philosophical anarchist and staffed by intense individualists who shared a horror of bureaucracy, the Writers' Project had 49 incarnations under state directors of wildly divergent intellectual stature - said the Senator's auntie running a southern office: "Have you ever seen such an inspiring sight? Seventeen poets, all in one room, writing poetry seven hours a day." Sectarian quarrels, political pressures, and personality conflicts plagued it, feeding that remarkable atmosphere of buoyancy and bathos, paranoia and oceanic affection which the Project inspired. Eminently fairminded about the old rancors Mangione can also be hilarious, lacing his narrative with the funky absurdism that bedeviled the operation. For lovers of Americana, '30's nostalgics, and serious students of American intellectual history and the Roosevelt administration. Splendid. (Kirkus Reviews)

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