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Reviews 381 Rexroth, Lowell, Duncan, Everson, Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, Snyder, Montague, Kinsella and Heaney. As well as being a poet, Mr. Parkinson is a Yeats scholar and a culturally committed Westerner, a member of the San Francisco/Berkeley community and longtime friend and associate of many of the so-called “Beat Generation.” So his writing has a kind of sweep rarely found among more academic or philosophically insular critics: pithy or grand by turns, technical, aesthetically shrewd, culturally attuned—worldly, perhaps even planetary. His claims for Whitman, Stevens, Rexroth, Duncan, Snyder and the Irish poets are large and lucidly argued, his worries about some of what might be called the truncated aspects of Robert Lowell’s achievement are significantly considered, and his debunking of the method and measure of much contempor­ ary American poetry is Jceenly on target. Thom Gunn claims the essays on Snyder, Winters and Rexroth are “the best or among the best” so far written on these poets. And certainly the insights into the cultural and artistic milieu of the Beats, as well as the shrewd summoning of the dialectical and creative interactions of the Crane-Winters, Pound-Williams, Pound-Yeats relationships, clarify much of the spiritual, cultural, artistic and intellectual struggle that has become the 20th century. Poets, Poems, Movements is a lofty book but never a dry one, and one that in the end earns its premise that “the point where the soul meets history is the point where the grandest poetry emerges.” I should think anyone inter­ ested in 20th-century arts and letters would consider it essential reading, and certainly anyone practicing the art and craft of poetry will find it illuminating and invigorating. MICHAEL JENNINGS Marietta, N Y No Name on the Bullet: A Biography of Audie Murphy. By Don Graham. (New York: Viking Penguin, Inc., 1989. 396 pages, $19.95.) As I closed in on the concluding chapters of this finely crafted story of the life of America’s Most Decorated Soldier of World War II (caps inten­ tional) , it was easy to see what there was about Audie Murphy that intrigued Don Graham. Beginning with Audie’s birth in 1924 in Hunt County, Texas (appropri­ ately, Graham uses Murphy’s first name throughout), Graham paints a picture of grim poverty and family shiftlessness. Abandoned by his father, orphaned by his mother, Audie found himself an unskilled, almost illiterate itinerant laborer on the eve of World War II. Graham follows the farm boy to war and paces off almost every step of Audie’s infantry experience. He includes frank revelations both of Audie’s famous heroics as well as more unsavory aspects of the youngster’s life in arms. He also provides an accurate and surprisingly comprehensive thumbnail history 382 Western American Literature of the European Theatre’s campaigns as they whorled around the head of this Texas youth who became famous for his natural tendency toward derring-do, the casual risk of his own life, and his unbridled passion for killing the enemy. At the end of the war, Audie received twenty-nine medals for valor, bravery, courage under fire and in the face of certain death, and total disregard for his own safety. In the end, the total would be thirty-seven, and they would include the Congressional Medal of Honor. The remainder of the book, indeed the bulk of it, is devoted to Audie’s career as a major star of “B” and “B+ ” films, mostly Westerns. Here, Graham meticulously details Audie’s relationship to directors, actors, and producers, and he provides insightful and incisive criticism of almost all of Audie’s fortyfive films and single and short-lived television series, Whispering Smith. Graham traces Audie’s maturation as a performer and suggests reasons for a man who often was the second or third most popular film star in America (and arguably, the wost screen actor) to decline into relative obscurity and bank­ ruptcy. Audie’s attempts as an adult and public figure to live up to ideals and images that he never could have imagined as a child of impoverished tenant farmers, to maintain a positive public image while masking the darker realities that haunted his soul emerge...


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pp. 381-382
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