Cover

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Title page, Copyright, Dedication

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Writer to Reader

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On February 16, 1896, Samuel Butler wrote to his father, “If I had a friend to advise in early life, I should say, ‘change your name to Aaron,’ and you will be pretty safe to head all alphabetical lists.’ ” That happened to be mostly true in my case, save on the rare occasions when I was bumped...

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Part One

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pp. 7-38

I was born in Chicago, August 4, 1912. Both of my parents were dead by my tenth year and virtual strangers to me before they died—my mother in 1921, in the Pottenger Sanitorium in Monrovia, California; my father a year later. Nor was I in rapport with relatives, friends, or other informants who might have been able to ‹ll in the gaps of family history...

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Part Two

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pp. 39-60

Harvard University had not been my ‹rst choice for graduate English studies, and I wouldn’t have gone there had the University of London admitted me without time-consuming conditions. To my surprise and relief, Harvard did, despite my uneven grades and inadequate preparation. It hadn’t occurred to me...

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Part Three

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pp. 61-88

One spring afternoon in 1939, I opened a telegram from the chairman of Smith College’s Department of English. Delivered while my study group was in session (we were reading The Marxist Handbook at the moment), it contained the offer of a three-year contract at $2,250...

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Part Four

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pp. 89-118

In Northampton, a few years before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, I had watched the war from a distance through the eyes of friends who were in it. My Harvard roommate, John Finch, now an intelligence of‹cer on an airplane carrier, summed it up to me as “sand in your ears and...

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Part Five

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pp. 119-156

In the early 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy hung over the United States like an enormous painted balloon. Watching his scowling bristly face on television had been pretty scary. The liberal press was full of stories about the lives he had wrecked, and the extent of the damage he caused...

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Part Six

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pp. 158-186

The demonstrations popping up on American campuses in the 1960s and extending to the 1970s began shortly after Joseph McCarthy’s unlamented death in 1957. They excited my sympathy and my vexation. The underlying cause of student disquiet, I believed, was the war in Vietnam, but its proclaimed target was the “establishment,” the emerging bogey...

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Aftermath

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pp. 187-196

I initially wrote the preceding parts of this book in 1997. Seven years later at midpoint in the presidentiad of Clinton’s successor—not a propitious time for the Republic—I take stock of my own history without pretending to understand its jerky course. At postninety, I have less to conceal...

Index

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pp. 197-199