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1. One Man's Initiation, 1917 (1920)
2. Manhattan Transfer: A Novel
3. 1919: Volume Two of the U.S.A.
4. The 42nd Parallel: Volume One
5. U.S.A.: The 42nd Parallel / 1919
6. Three Soldiers
7. World in a glass;: A view of our
8. Dos Passos: Novels 1920-1925:
9. The Fourteenth Chronicle: Letters
10. The Big Money: Volume Three of
11. U.S.A: The 42nd parallel, Nineteen-nineteen,
12. State of the Nation
13. War Novels Anthology (10 books)
14. John Dos Passos: Travel Books
15. Argument of John R. Dos Passos,
16. Tour of Duty: By John Dos Passos
17. U.S.A. Three Volumes - Complete
18. Classic American Fiction: three
19. First Encounter
20. John Dos Passos' Manhattan Transfer

1. One Man's Initiation, 1917 (1920)
by John Dos Passos
 Paperback: 128 Pages (2010-09-10)
list price: US$16.76 -- used & new: US$16.73
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 116393383X
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Editorial Review

Product Description
This scarce antiquarian book is a selection from Kessinger Publishing's Legacy Reprint Series. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment to protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature. Kessinger Publishing is the place to find hundreds of thousands of rare and hard-to-find books with something of interest for everyone! ... Read more

2. Manhattan Transfer: A Novel
by John Dos Passos
Paperback: 352 Pages (2003-09-02)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$2.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0618381864
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Considered by many to be John Dos Passos's greatest work, Manhattan Transfer is an "expressionistic picture of New York" (New York Times) in the 1920s that reveals the lives of wealthy power brokers and struggling immigrants alike. From Fourteenth Street to the Bowery, Delmonico's to the underbelly of the city waterfront, Dos Passos chronicles the lives of characters struggling to become a part of modernity before they are destroyed by it.More than seventy-five years after its first publication, Manhattan Transfer still stands as "a novel of the very first importance" (Sinclair Lewis). It is a masterpeice of modern fiction and a lasting tribute to the dual-edged nature of the American dream. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars There's a thousand things it wants to say to you
There are novels that are about New York City and there are novels that live in New York City.This is one of the latter.It squats in the gutters of it the same way that the bums do when they're hunched down to avoid catching too much of the chill winds that blow through the canyons caused by the skyscrapers that loom overhead.It circles high above, in those very skyscrapers, where people smoke expensive cigars and make expensive plans on what to do to make even more money than they already have.It flutters through the days of history, as people fight their way through crowds of people and the smothering clustering sense that being in the center of the world isn't the best thing if the place is so dense you can't even catch your breath.The City requires big lungs and high stamina and if you're not built for it, the place will wear you down, bit by bit, until all you can do is stagger away for a town that that may more liveable but won't be quite the same.But there's no place like Manhattan.Anywhere.Ever.

I've had a long, strange, weird affair with this book.I got into Dos Passos almost thirteen years ago, as a kid getting out of high school and looking for literature to discover.His cross-sections point of view and especially his experimental sense of HOW to tell a story led to me to "The USA Trilogy", one of the best snapshots of a certain "feel" this country had, at a certain point in time, hitched to a structure that made you think anything was possible.

But even back then I knew about this, the earlier novel, the forerunner and the testing ground for what would become that later, more expansive trilogy.I only got around to buying it a few years later (many years later, probably, due to it being out of print briefly) and reading it just now.And in a sense, I don't think I would have been ready for it."USA Trilogy", for all of its many, many merits, was planned and assured, the mark of someone who had perfected a style and was using it with a master's eye, to the best of his ability.That's not the case here.Here all the techniques that so defined that trilogy seem new, and not just to us, but to Dos Passos as well, so that all the experimentation and innovation of those three books has been compressed into four hundred pages, an entire country shoved into the borders of the biggest city on earth, which is perhaps fitting.

The characters seem to feel it too, even if can't quite put a finger on it, shuffling and darting as their plots connect or barely miss each other, or seem to happen in different worlds.There's a creeping sense of desperation in their lives, the sense that they're slowly becoming aware that they're stepped into the middle of a storm they thought they could control, and it turns out they can't and now they're discovering that it's killing them.The story moves to the city's pulse and its rhythms, with a freewheeling quality that would turn into a more calculated eye.Here the news reports are thrown into the beginning of each chapter as a sort of feedback burst, giving you intense bits of information that aren't meaning so much as words to set the feel.The texture of a city rolling over you.Narratives drop into stream of consciousness without warning, the words dancing into new rhythms as peoples' thoughts race ahead and they try to keep up with them, as they attempt to keep up with a century rapidly spiralling out of their grasp.Sentences push against the page, still maintaining their normal structures but still straining against them, wanting to form new strictures and structures.It's all congealing but won't reach its final form here.

It's not a typical novel in the sense that we follow a conventional narrative.The various stories don't dovetail into one whole, like a Dickens novel, we don't get a neat resolution so much as a gradual fade.But that's hardly the point.It's a snapshot and a cross-section, as Dos Passos leaps from character to character, staying with some for the bulk of the novel while abandoning others and bringing in still more, as they intersect and criss-cross and don't meet each other at all.It can make things difficult remembering who is who and what role they have, as down and out types are given the same space and consideration as the high and mighty folks.Time is an issue here, too, with leaps in years seeming to pass at points and a sense that history isn't so much happening as being experienced.

But this makes it feel less of its time and more contemporary.It's a portrait of a New York City that no longer really exists but at the same time still can be found in the hectic pace of its life, in the corners and alleys, in the new and just as clotted century, where our own rapid changes are wearing us down as quickly as anyone else in this novel.We see their stories but too rarely see their resolutions.They come in, and live, and walk back out again, or fade, or explode.In this fantastic grimy glorious city.And in doing so, they approximate our lives.And so does this city.And so does this book.

3-0 out of 5 stars A once-famed novel . . .
. . . that's very dated today. Dos Passos was admired for his impressionistic writing in the 1930s, but he's weak on character development and that's at the center of contemporary fiction.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good but not great
Manhattan Transfer is a book that is designed to work by cumulative, metonymic impact. As such, its episodes linger but confusedly. It leaves us with a picture of a city both glittering and ragged, rife with abysmal failures and dubious successes, but ultimately fails to make us care much about it or them.Jimmy Herf and Ellen Oglethorpe, its main protagonists, are too weakly developed and, as such, are not by themselves sufficiently interesting to bring this book to the level of Dos Passos' own USA, or of its model, Joyce's Ulysses. The latter in particular not only displays a formal virtuosity that Manhattan Transfer never or very rarely attains but also provides us with a strong narrative anchor via Leopold Bloom. This is just what's lacking here and is powerfully present in a much, much sharply drawn (if arguably less totalizing) New York novel : Henry Roth's brilliant, under-appreciated Call it Sleep. To paraphrase Stendhal (and I think he'd agree), if your novel is a mirror, it is wise to have someone holding it to the world instead of just bouncing about in the carriage reflecting whatever. What you lose in supposed objectivity and newness, you gain in focus and power.

Still, the influence of Dos Passos' method on Sartre, not to mention Gaddis, Pynchon, et al is enormous and obvious (it's also what makes some of their books such a drag to read). I for one tend to feel it even more in the films of the American New Wave: I'm thinking Altman's Nashville or his later Carver inspired Shorts (which incidentally are NOT my favorite Altman movies for just the reasons mentioned above).

3-0 out of 5 stars Too many voices, but they were the real deal
Let me first say that Dos Passos is a great author and his ability to write so many different characters is an incredible talent that I'm sure many authors wish they could emulate. That being said, with this novel being as brief as it is, some of the voices get lost in the shuffle. I think that the city vs. humanity motif is a great one and relevant in our bustling and merciless world of today, but I wonder if the story would have been more poignant through a single set of eyes, or at least a central character in the third person narrative.

I'll give Dos Passos credit for being prophetic. I lived in NYC for the last couple of years while I was seeing someone who lived there. It is a world unto itself and many of the chapters concerning the vampire-like quality of Manhattan are spot on. But again, there were many occasions where I began to enjoy a single narrative, like George the attorney, only to have it vanish for twenty pages. I guess it is an acquired taste. From a technical standpoint it is definitely executed well. I am always wowed by authors who can mimic so many different voices and have it feel authentic. But I have to stick to my guns and say that there were just too many.

5-0 out of 5 stars A dizzying mosaic of a city
Manhattan Transfer is a book peopled by a crowd of characters, rich or poor, sad or happy, hopeful or hopeless, beautiful or ugly, bold or coward, eachand everyone of them seemingly an archetype of the New Yorker, but none of them standing out from the gray, trampling, anonymous mass of New Yorkers. None stands out because all are engulfed, crushed and swallowed by the voracious monster who is the main, if not the only real, character in the novel: the City itself, with its glaring lights, its stifling smells, its deafening sounds, its never-ending pulsating pace.
In a style that revolutionized the art of writing by basing itself on the techniques of the movies, (short and brisk dialogues, no transitions, descriptions bursting in violent flashes), the writer managed to paint a dizzying mosaic of a city that, after ninety years, has not changed that much: the buildings may be taller, the cabs may be faster, but the people are the same, human, so human... ... Read more

3. 1919: Volume Two of the U.S.A. Trilogy
by John Dos Passos
Paperback: 464 Pages (2000-05-25)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$1.40
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0618056823
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
With 1919, the second volume of his U.S.A. trilogy, John Dos Passos continues his "vigorous and sweeping panorama of twentieth-century America" (Forum), lauded on publication of the first volume not only for its scope, but also for its groundbreaking style. Again, employing a host of experimental devices that would inspire a whole new generation of writers to follow, Dos Passos captures the many textures, flavors, and background noises of modern life with a cinematic touch and unparalleled nerve.

1919 opens to find America and the world at war, and Dos Passos's characters, many of whom we met in the first volume, are thrown into the snarl. We follow the daughter of a Chicago minister, a wide-eyed Texas girl, a young poet, a radical Jew, and we glimpse Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Unknown Soldier. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Leaves me wanting more
The bottom line is this: if you likedThe 42nd Parallel: Volume One of the U.S.A. Trilogy, you will like _1919_.

I liked both books.They are structurally similar, with Dos Passos weaving a tapestry of American life in the early part of the last century, with news and biography and longer stories of individual characters representing many parts of the socio-political milieu in the covered period.

The longer stories weave in and out of each other with multiple points of intersection.While this is interesting, it is sometimes hard to keep the momentum going as a reader.At the section ends, this isan easy book to put down.This is partly because there is no larger narrative created except for the grand sweep of history.Some of the characters are more sympathetic than others but you get the feeling Dos Passos wasn't trying for a nice story; he blends naturalism with modernism and leaves me wanting more.

5-0 out of 5 stars Highly Engaging and Entertaining Art
This second book in the U.S.A. trilogy seems more accomplished than the first.While I tend to believe this is because Dos Passos had gotten into the rhythm of the novel, it could be that, by the second book, the reader has become more acquainted with the experimental aspects.At any rate, this book, no less than the first, left me in awe.Dos Passos is a writer of the highest order.

While the first book focused more on economic issues in the lives of everyday Americans, this novel shifts focus to the war.Few of the primary characters are enthusiastic about the war and, thus, the cross-section of America presented cannot be said to be ideologically representative anymore than the first was ethnically or culturally representative.And yet the scope of the novel is broad.Again, Dos Passos' subject is America rather than individual Americans.While the individuals are interesting, they are not essential as individuals.

Dos Passos' ability to set a scene is as good as anyone's.In the following, two characters from the first novel are sitting at a small café in Europe just after Eveline has asked an intimate question of J.W.

"Eveline sat looking at him [J.W.] with her lips a little apart, her cheeks blazing.`Maybe it's taken the war to teach us how to live,' he said.`We've been too much interested in money and material things, it's taken the French to show us how to live.Where back home in the States could you find a beautiful atmosphere like this?'J.W. waved his arm to include in a sweeping gesture the sea, the tables crowded with women dressed in bright colors and men in their best uniforms, the bright glint of blue light on glasses and cutlery.The waiter mistook his gesture and slyly substituted a full bottle for the empty bottle in the champagnepail."

This is as close as most of the characters get to introspection.The characters of this novel, as most Americans yesterday and today, live their lives rather than ruminate about them.Where J.W. perhaps regret his focus on work and material things over relationships, other characters' lives are ordered primarily around relationships or the moment rather than about succeeding in any traditional sense.

One character sums up his view after breaking up with a girl he had impregnated:"Gee, I'm glad I'm not a girl, he kept thinking.He had a splitting headache.He locked his door, got undressed and put out the light.When he opened the window a gust of raw rainy air came into the room and made him feel better.It was just like Ed said, you couldn't do anything without making other people miserable.A hell of a rotten world."

It may be a hell of a rotten world, but in Dos Passos' hands, it is a beautiful one all the same.Dos Passos' vision can seem barren of the hope and optimism usually associated with the "American dream."Dos Passos is not interested in the popular illusion, however, but in America as it was lived by ordinary people.This trilogy may be the true height of American literature.At the least, it should be considered essential reading.

While this book could be read alone, to fully appreciate the connections between characters, you must start with the first book in the trilogy, THE 42nd PARALLEL.I highly recommend doing so.The U.S.A. trilogy is a truly astounding literary achievement and should be read as a piece.

2-0 out of 5 stars Bogged Down in the War
After reading and greatly enjoying the first volume (The 42nd Parallel) in Dos Passos' acclaimed "USA trilogy", I quickly moved on to this next volume. Picking up where that one left off, it takes the reader from America's entry in World War I through the end of the war. As with "The 42nd Parallel", this is done by following several characters through the war era, interspersed with Dos Passos' experiment modernist sequences "The Camera Eye" and "Newsreel." (These are kind of abstract prose collages or montages comprised of headlines, snatched phrases of songs, news clippings, and random phrases -- presumably intended to convey some of the mood and seeming frenetic pace of the time. At the time they might have seemed startling and striking, however to me they muddy up what is already a wide-ranging and complex narrative.) There are also sketches of major figures, such as Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, Joe Hill, J.P. Morgan, and the Unknown Soldier, which are miniature masterpieces of biography.

Unfortunately, while that first book was a revelation, I found this one exceedingly tedious. Dos Passos' antiwar sentiment is so strong and vociferous throughout the book that it lacks the range of the first book and settles into a more or less repetitive rut. While it's certainly instructive to see how almost a century ago, a nation could be easily seduced by manufactured patriotism, Dos Passos' take is so decidedly ideological that he masks some of the complexities of the situation. His bitter cynicism about it all -- which, to be fair, was hard won through his ambulance duty on the Western Front -- results in a very negative novel, in which all relationships are a failure, all promises broken, all politics corrupt, and even those who mean well are rendered ineffective by larger forces.

The book introduces a new set of characters, including a sailor, a poet, a Jewish radical, a small-town Texas woman, and a preacher's daughter. However, for some reason, their tales aren't nearly as compelling as those in "The 42nd Parallel." While this may be because they are overshadowed by the war, it doesn't help that many characters from that earlier book turn up in France to steal a good deal of the narrative thunder. In any event, what was exciting about the first book is decidedly less so here, and I don't think I'll move on to complete the trilogy -- at least not any time soon.

4-0 out of 5 stars Mariner/Houghton Mifflin paperback is shoddily typeset--avoid!
This is a review of the Mariner paperback edition, published by Houghton Mifflin. The U.S.A. trilogy is wonderful, and Dos Passos' seemingly artless style--it's as if each of the many characters whose fates he intertwines has written his or her story as a chatty, intimate letter and Dos Passos has simply edited them lightly--fairly sweeps you along. BUT don't buy this edition! The covers are beautifully designed, but these volumes contain a scandalous number of typographical errors. The proofreader, if there was one, was clearly asleep on the job.

5-0 out of 5 stars The one thing that enslaves people more than any other to the servitude of war is nationalism
Those words, written by John Dos Passos while serving as a Red Cross Ambulance Driver during the First World War, provide the underlying theme for "1919", Volume II of Dos Passos' "USA Trilogy".

Dos Passos is one of the (now) lesser known literary giants of the first half of the 20th-century.At the height of his fame in the 1930s he found himself on the same pedestal as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner.By the time Volume III (The Big Money) was released in 1936, Jean-Paul Sartre hailed him as "the greatest writer of our time".Edmund Wilson's review went so far as to claim that Dos Passos was "the first of our writers, with the possible exception of Mark Twain, who has successfully used colloquial American for a novel of the highest artistic seriousness."Dos Passos' literary reputation began to change during the Spanish Civil War.Dos Passos, along with Hemingway and many other literary figures including George Orwell, made his way to Spain to assist in the Republican cause.Like Orwell, Dos Passos was deeply affected by the brutal infighting amongst Republican supporters.In the case of Dos Passos he was deeply distressed by murder of a friend (anarchist and Johns Hopkins Professor Jose Robles) apparently executed by Stalinist cadres for his nonconforming radicalism.Hemingway mocked Dos Passos for his unmanly concern for his friend.Dos Passos reports that he told Hemingway that "the question I keep putting to myself is what's the use of fighting a war for civil liberties, if you destroy civil liberties in the process?" Hemingway replied "civil liberties, [__ _ _ ]. Are you with us or against us?"It is no surprise that Dos Passos' next book was criticized severely. The New Masses magazine referred to it as a "crude piece of Trotskyist agit-prop".Dos Passos never reclaimed the popularity he had achieved with the USA Trilogy.

1919 takes up where "42nd Parallel" left off.President Wilson, despite his 1916 campaign slogan "He kept us out of War" had taken the United States to war against Germany in 1917.Many of the characters found in 42nd Parallel, including Eleanor Stoddard, J. Ward Moorehouse, Eveline Hutchins, and Joe Williams find their to France.Along with a few new characters, their lives intersect and divert throughout the war and the subsequent peace talks at Versailles.With the exception of J. War Moorehouse these are all relatively `little people' who have no real influence on the course of events but who simply must endure them.

In addition to the stories of these fictional characters, 1919 is interspersed with mini-biographies of real people, newsreel clippings that place the story in a social a political context, and a series of autobiographical sketchesin which Dos Passos steps out from the story and provides his own personal context to the times.The writing is terse and enjoyable.The highlights of the book for me were his biographical sketches. His mini-biography of Woodrow Wilson ("Meester Vilson"), J.P. Morgan, Theodore Roosevelt and Joe Hill say more about those men than many full length biographies.His closing biography, of the Unknown Soldier ("The Body of an American") picked from among the unidentified American casualties of the war,is a beautiful, politically charged piece of writing."

The use of the Camera Eye, biographies, and newsreels create a literary mosaic that leaves the reader feeling he is in the middle of a multi-media experience within the confines of a book.Later generations of writers have adopted this technique to great success.E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime is a case in point. (Doctorow wrote an appreciative foreword to this edition.)

1919 is a worthy successor to 42nd Parallel that leaves this 21st-century reader with a feeling that he had stepped back almost 100 years to a different time and place in American history.I would only note that his book will not be appreciated unless one has read "42nd Parallel".It is an investment in time that no reader with an interest in political (or politicized) fiction will regret making.
... Read more

4. The 42nd Parallel: Volume One of the U.S.A. Trilogy
by John Dos Passos
Paperback: 448 Pages (2000-05-25)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$3.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0618056815
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
With his U.S.A. trilogy, comprising THE 42nd PARALLEL, 1919, and THE BIG MONEY, John Dos Passos is said by many to have written the great American novel. While Fitzgerald and Hemingway were cultivating what Edmund Wilson once called their "own little corners," John Dos Passos was taking on the world. Counted as one of the best novels of the twentieth century by the Modern Library and by some of the finest writers working today, U.S.A. is a grand, kaleidoscopic portrait of a nation, buzzing with history and life on every page.

The trilogy opens with THE 42nd PARALLEL, where we find a young country at the dawn of the twentieth century. Slowly, in stories artfully spliced together, the lives and fortunes of five characters unfold. Mac, Janey, Eleanor, Ward, and Charley are caught on the storm track of this parallel and blown New Yorkward. As their lives cross and double back again, the likes of Eugene Debs, Thomas Edison, and Andrew Carnegie make cameo appearances. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars America 100 Years Ago
Dos Passos is an innovative author and artist, experimenting with the multidimensional world of cubism.He is a socialist/communist, seeking an alternative to capitalism.He is a biographer, a story-teller and an anthropologist.

He captures the essence of 1910 America through the detailed stories of selected ordinary Americans of various states and social classes.The portrait is not flattering.He is like Upton Sinclair and Sinclair Lewis in muckraking through small town and industrial America.However, his picture is human and touching.Individuals strive to get ahead, but they are unable to see the system or the changes taking place around them.

His snapshot is overly negative, focused on the dehumanization of the system.It does not provide a complementary glimpse of the progress made by society in meeting personal and community needs, in spite of the lack of a central government pursuing these ends.

Many subsequent authors have built upon his work.Charles Beard's economic perspective on history is a cousin.Steinbeck's portraits of ordinary Americans fighting economic factors is a nephew.Studs Terkel's descriptions of ordinary Chicagoans is a grandchild.

Dos Passos makes a compelling case for the important role of the system in shaping the lives of ordinary Americans, beyond what they can comprehend.As a novelist, he has the privilege of not having a responsibility to provide real solutions other than the implicit comprehensive Marxist/socialist answer.

5-0 out of 5 stars A leftist, radicalized, American version of Joyce
The Library of America has printed the entire USA trilogy by Dos Passos in a nice hardcover. U.S.A.: The 42nd Parallel / 1919 / The Big Money (Library of America) I however, do not particularly like hardcover books of many pages - they hurt my left wrist as I read.Therefore, I did not buy the entire trilogy in hard cover.I was also covering my bases.Had I not liked the first novel of the trilogy, The 42nd Parallel, I would not be burdened by having bought and thus `having' to read the whole 1000 pages of the three books.I thought I was saving money, but now I wish I had bought the whole thing to begin with.

Dos Passos is something of a leftist radicalized, American version of Joyce.If that sounds good to you, get the book(s).He does something interesting here about the nature of storytelling and history in the early part of the twentieth century.He weaves together bits and pieces of history and fiction and song and poetry to get at what was real about that time.Some of the bits take you out of the narrative he's stringing together for your elucidation, but they help give you (and reinforce) context of the time.Dos Passos' strength is in creatingcharacters.Too many books that try to bring several characters and have them serve as narrative centers for a time suffer a common weakness: some of the characters are stronger than others.Dos Passos does not suffer from this deficit, and his storytelling benefits as a result.All the characters are rounded out and have a life you want to see played out.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not for me
Did not enjoy this book.Couldn't manage to get through it.In my bookclub group, only one person finished the book.She didn't seem too impressed with it either.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Husky, Brawling Book
How Dos Passos fell into obscurity is a mystery to me, but his status as a relative unknown doesn't look likely to change any time soon.This edition of 'The 42nd Parallel', the first installment of the U.S.A. trilogy and probably his most famous work, has been in print for ten years and has only received a smattering of reviews - the entire trilogy, published in one volume by the Library of America, has only a few more.I suspect one reason may be that his contemporaries, Hemingway and Fitzgerald, have such mythic reputations based on a confluence of output, lifestyles, and tragic endings that Dos Passos, who only had his body of work to rely on, can't compete.The irony is Dos Passos lived as an eventful life if not more so than either of the other two - he and his intimates were just quieter about it.

Whatever the reason, this particular public amnesia seems to be self-perpetuating - and unfair.'The 42nd parallel' and the trilogy it belongs to are comparable to the best from the era, and deserve a better fate than consignment to a literary footnote.Dos Passos' collage style is original and inspiring - a modern synthesis of technique that combined traditional narrative; snatches of popular culture; miniature, slanted biographies; and stream-of-conscious personal memories of the author.However, if all there were to Dos Passos was scholarly innovation, then his anonymity might be understandable, if not justifiable.It is the combination, though, of literary inventiveness, history and study of the American identity that sets the author's work apart as a landmark classic.Though there are only a few who could verify it, Dos Passos creates such an air of authenticity about the people and the era of which he writes that his work almost demands attention from both the amateur and serious historian as a frame of reference for larger events.In fact, he catapults the first quarter of the 20th century out of dusty textbooks and infuses it, through fiction, with the fascinating and muscular energy that non-fiction can sometimes lack.Yet at the same time, the authority of his style - direct and unvarnished, and without assigning literary motive to his character's actions - comes across as plainspoken as if we were reading some long lost journal of one of our own ancestors.

What a refreshing change from the contrived manipulations of a standard novel.There is no plot to 'The 42nd Parallel'.Instead, Dos Passos gives us five characters who are captives of their time and place, and whose daily concerns are a mixture of current events and the familiar foibles of humanity.Beginning in the last days of the 19th century, he follows these selected few up until America's deployment of the A.E.F. to France in 1917.With other historical fictions, I would expect these character's lives to intersect in meaningful, portentous ways - but Dos Passos' aim isn't to provide values or illustrate consequences to a larger audience through the vehicle of his writing.Instead, he is a chronicler of the common man's experience in America at the turn of the century.

As time eclipsed Dos Passos, so too did future events overshadow the period of history he wrote about, but much of the groundwork for the volatility and carnage later on was carefully constructed in the first decades of the century.One of the most beguiling aspects of the novel for me was reading about these opening salvos in the coming struggles - but from the ground's eye view, so to speak, of the everyman.He could not know about the storms and opportunities on the horizon because Dos Passos didn't know about them, thereby eliminating artificially prescient motives, or moralizing in hindsight.In the hands of an artisan such as Dos Passos, it is a relief and a revelation to read about his people - they come by their ham-fisted mistakes honestly.

Carl Sandburg once referred to Chicago as, "husky, brawling, the city of the big shoulders."As I read 'The 42nd Parallel', that phrase kept returning to my mind - except instead of one city, Dos Passos projected it across the entire nation.'Big shoulders' doesn't imply any value by itself, good or bad, but it does make me think of hard work, and industry - and 'The 42nd Parallel' is stocked to the ceiling with both.It was a time of titanic production and titanic change, but instead of presenting it as a mythological golden age or as halcyon days of yore, Dos Passos gives it to us in all its dirty honesty, and makes me realize how the roiling tide of the past pounded our present into shape.Forgotten or not, that's great literature to me.

5-0 out of 5 stars Underappreciated Masterpiece
"But mostly U.S.A. is the speech of the people."So says John Dos Passos in the prologue to his outstanding U.S.A. trilogy which spans the first several decades of the 20th century.THE 42nd PARALLEL, the first book of the trilogy, ends just as the First World War is beginning.Dos Passos, talking about the country, fairly summarized his own astounding work of art.

With this trilogy, Dos Passos captures the essence of America at the beginning of the last century.His prose is remarkable and distinctive.With a few efficient strokes, Dos Passos draws full and vibrant characters inhabiting a world that, through this novel, the reader comes to know.

"After a while the boys stirpped to their bathingsuits that they wore under their clothes.It made Janey's throat tremble to watch Alec's back and the bulging muscles of his arm as he paddled, made her feel happy and scared.She sat there in her white dimity dress, trailing her hand in the weedy browngreen water...The cream soda got warm and they drank it that way and kidded each other back and forth and Alec caught a crab and covered Janey's dress with greenslimy splashes and Janey didn't care a bit and they called Joe skipper and he loosened up and said he was going to join the navy and Alec said he'd be a civil engineer and build a motorboat and take them all cruising and Janey was happy because they included her when they talked just like she was a boy too."

While the prose is excellent and the stories compelling, this novel has several experimental aspects.The novel shifts from character to character.In this way, Dos Passos is able to present a broad, though hardly complete, cross-section of America.From train-hopping Mac to dissatisfied Eleanor Stoddard to budding businessman J. Ward Morehouse, various slices of lower, middle, and upper class life are made real and the issues of the day made urgent.The true main character of this work is America and only by shifting among characters could Dos Passos reveal and examine America as he wanted.

The more conventionally narrative portions of the novel are separated by "News Reels", "Camera Eyes", and short biographies of major figures of the day (such as Eugene Debs, Andrew Carnegie, and William Jennings Bryan).The News Reels, to my ear, succeed in giving a sense of the political mood of the time.Though television did not yet exist, the effect is much like flipping through our myriad channels catching sound bites from talking heads, bits of commercials, and snatches of songs.Dos Passos achieved this effect by crafting the News Reels out of incomplete snippets of newspaper stories spliced among bits of political speeches and popular songs.Because it is so unconventional, it can seem disjointed and, perhaps, pointless at first.With repetition, the reader, at least this reader, starts to feel and appreciate the rhythm.In the end, Dos Passos achieved the effect for which I assume he aimed.

The Camera Eye sections consist of stream of consciousness rambling presented in run-on sentences:"...and everything was very kind and grave and very sorry and frigates and the blue Mediterranean and islands and when I was dead I began to cry and I was afraid the other boys would see I had tears in my eyes...I was so sorry I never remembered whether they brought me home or buried me at sea but anyway I was wrapped in Old Glory."

These sections work also.Reader preferences will vary, but I felt these sections added to the novel and, contrary to the ideas of some, did not clutter the narrative.They provide a different, sometimes more intimate, psychological aspect of the times.The narrative itself addresses the characters' minds in a more oblique fashion, whereas these Camera Eyes provide a direct glimpse into the thoughts of yet another character.

The biographies are short, uniquely insightful, and always entertaining.These biographical sketches are alone worth the price of admission.

THE 42nd PARALLEL is not a typical novel in that characters seem to aimlessly wander in and out of the primary story.As I mentioned before, the true subject is not a particular individual, but America.To present America requires examining its people, but the destiny of any one individual is inconsequential to the whole.Dos Passos manages to tell a compelling story about the U.S.A. without telling a complete story about any one individual.Characters as often disappear not to be seen again as die.When they die, America moves on.The trilogy is enthralling.Dos Passos is a master, the trilogy his masterpiece. ... Read more

5. U.S.A.: The 42nd Parallel / 1919 / The Big Money (Library of America)
by John Dos Passos
Hardcover: 1312 Pages (1996-08-01)
list price: US$40.00 -- used & new: US$21.36
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1883011140
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Unique for its epic scale and panoramic social sweep, Dos Passos' masterpiece comprises three novels--"The 42nd Parallel," "1919," and "The Big Money"--which create an unforgettable collective portrait of modern America. This one-volume edition includes detailed notes and a chronicle of the world events which serve as a backdrop. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (28)

5-0 out of 5 stars A young man's book in every sense: dynamic, exciting.

This was my favourite book when I was a university student. I took it everywhere.

'Very much a young man's book: clips of radio and newspapers help to create the atmosphere and drive the book along. Hugely underrated, probably because of its Leftism, it creates and image of a USA more like Paris in 1968 that of Family Guy of Homer Simpson. Well worth reading and the interesting clips make you dip in and out of it, again and again

5-0 out of 5 stars should be in everyone's library, for a look at the past, to which we have returned
It's great to have a copy of this trilogy again.I was particularly impressed with the compact size and quality of the book, yet with large enough print. I especially liked the chronology of his life, story of his background.I was so impressed I ordered Tocqueville's book as well, even though I still have a paperback.

5-0 out of 5 stars Voices From The Shadows
Author John Dos Passos painted a masterpiece on the Lost Generation in his novels which comprised the USA Trilogy.

His use of snapshots to chronicle scenes and the introduction of material through headlines was revolutionary in American fiction; with the mechanics of presentation arguably overshadowing the oftentimes narrow and shrill angle of political thought.

Though the impact from Dos Passos continues to be overshadowed by contemporary icons like Hemingway and Fitzgerald, the USA Trilogy - difficult to find in one volume like this Library of America release - is a voice from characters whose lives were too often ignored or quickly forgotten.

2-0 out of 5 stars Depressing Distortions - Ideology, not Literature
I read this as a teenager - big mistake! What a depressing libel on America that never looks at the humanity of the people, the warmth in people's hearts, the successes of the free enterprise system and their open politics. It took me a few years of working for a living to realize how distorted dos Passos' vision was.

Certainly there where injustices in the country at the time but no story purporting to encompass the nation should be so imbalanced. Of course, a harsh look at the insipient fascism of the Wilson administration was prescient (see Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism" for a more sober analysis.)

While there are memorable passages, mostly it was boring if not for the repeated portraits of sleaze and low life. What attracted me to the trilogy was the short piece on Steinmetz, an electrical genius comparable to, but saner than Tesla. Working in real engineering, it was nothing like what the picture dos Passos painted and never could have been.

I can't see recommending anyone wasting their time on these volumes today. Today's leftists would enjoy the reinforcement of their anti-Americanisms but that's like recommending heroin to Percodan addicts.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great American novel
The USA trilogy comprises three books that really read as one continuous story. It tells the tales of numerous individuals as they are buffeted by the currents of history around the early part of the 20th century. The format of the novels is uncoventional: interspersed among the passages about the characters in the book are news headlines, vignettes of historical figures and autobiographical sketches. There is no single plot, and there is no tidy ending for many of the characters

The lives are consumed by the search for money, alcohol and sex. The most passionate people are the lrft-wing activists, who are presented sympathetically in their struggles for the working class. However, despite the exacting detail of the lives of the main players, conspicuously absent - except for brief instances - is love. Without this particular quality, the characters' lives seem purposeless.

This is a monumental work, a great American novel. It is long, and there are many characters and details to remember; however it is well worth the effort to read. ... Read more

6. Three Soldiers
by John Dos Passos
Kindle Edition: Pages (2010-08-09)
list price: US$0.99
Asin: B003Z0CVW2
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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According to Wikipedia: " John Roderigo Dos Passos (January 14, 1896 – September 28, 1970) was an American novelist and artist... Considered one of the Lost Generation writers, Dos Passos's first novel was published in 1920. Titled One Man's Initiation: 1917 it was followed by an antiwar story, Three Soldiers, which brought him considerable recognition... His major work is the U.S.A. trilogy comprising The 42nd Parallel (1930), Nineteen Nineteen or 1919 (1932), and The Big Money (1936). Dos Passos used experimental techniques in these novels, incorporating newspaper clippings, autobiography, biography and fictional realism to paint a vast landscape of American culture during the first decades of the twentieth century. Though each novel stands on its own, the trilogy is designed to be read as a whole. Dos Passos's political and social reflections in the novel are deeply pessimistic about the political and economic direction of the United States, and few of the characters manage to hold onto their ideals through the First World War... In an often cited 1936 essay, Sartre referred to Dos Passos as "the greatest writer of our time"." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

4-0 out of 5 stars Dos Passos shines
Superb writing by Dos Passos as he puts you in the mind of an artist trying to cope with life in the military. He wrote this in 1919 and his service in World War 1 was still burning fresh in his mind. The plot drags a little about 2/3 through but stick with it, there is a strong finish.

3-0 out of 5 stars Waiting to fight and wanting to flee, more than the battle itself
Memorial Day was spent reading this 1921 novel, in a battered copy from the back shelves of the Los Angeles Public Library's stacks, where the volume had been, the librarian told me, damaged by the sprinklers set off to quench the great fire that destroyed much of the old building over twenty years ago. This fragile book seemed a casualty of its own, like
its characters, who rush off to the French front only to hurry up and wait. Two of them enter the "Oregon forest," the Argonne campaign, but the assault itself takes up only a few harrowing, nightmarish, disconnected scenes halfway through the narrative.

Dos Passos emphasizes the detachment of his characters from their peaceful or uprooted surroundings. Much of the book roams about the mental landscape of its three protagonists, rather than what happens in terms of action. It conveys more the tedium of bureaucracy and the formation of the conformist, against which the sensitive individual chafes. The five chapters have titles that make sure a reader nearly ninety years ago does not forget what, for us, may be unmistakable concepts. "Making the Mould" follows soldiers as they are processed; "The Metal Cools" shows them in France waiting for mobilization; "Machines" takes them closer to the war; "Rust" follows them after peace is declared; "The World Outside" shows them away from the camp; "Under the Wheels" returns them to military control.

Dos Passos, as biographies by Townsend Ludington and Virginia Spencer Carr (both reviewed by me) document, took his own ambivalence against war as one who volunteered as an ambulance driver to witness it into this novel. It's a young writer's effort, ambitious yet a bit awkward, but if you have read his later sprawling chronicles, the relative compression of scope here may demonstrate how Dos Passos sought to integrate modernist perspectives into a standard "boy goes off to fight" storyline. He sought, perhaps as one of the first successful WWI novels in print-- or still in print-- in America, to show a social mechanism grinding away that "Catch-22" or "Full Metal Jacket" or "Dispatches" would do for future conflicts that pitted people against power. In a time when many still remained optimistic about government, idealism, and the impact of culture upon the masses, Dos Passos sought to warn his audience about the degrading effects of patriotic cant, Christian platitudes, and military hypocrisy.

In "Three Soldiers," Dos Passos' first "mature" work, the coming-of-age stories familiar to early 20c readers mingle with a broader assault on conformity. The author listens to speech and it rings sharply. He watches for fog and shade and sun with his trained eye that looked as a painter would what his soldiers witness and struggle to understand. These themes of ordinary people overwhelmed by the world that appears to loom far above the reach of any of us who wander through it deepened to enrich Dos Passos' most successful novels, "Manhattan Transfer" (reviewed by me) and the USA trilogy, with their author's insistent message of resisting any political creed or organizational system that sought to stamp robots out of, or into, wriggling fragile flesh.

We've all seen films or photographs of the lunar landscapes of WWI, but here, in Dos Passos' evocation, we share the shock of the first glimpse of this to a soldier. He may have seen few if any snapshots or film reels of the battleground. Here's his sudden arrival at the demarcation of the actual frontline.

"As they started down the slope, the trees suddenly broke away and they saw the valley between them full of the glare of guns and the white light of star shells. It was like looking into a stove full of glowing embers. The hillside that sloped away from them was full of crashing detonations and yellow tongues of flame. In a battery near the road, that seemed to crush their skulls each time a gun fired, they could see the dark forms of the artillerymen silhouetted in fantastic attitudes against the intermittent red glare. Stunned and blinded, they kept on marching down the road. It seemed to Chrisfield that they were going to step any minute
into the flaring muzzle of a gun."

The rest of the book, after a few vividly sketched battle vignettes, settles down into post-Armistice routine, as John Andrews, the stand-in for Harvard grad Dos Passos, cultivates his aesthetic eye while grousing at the indignities of mass crowd control and his own chapped sensibility. I found him a familiar type, perhaps fresher in Dos Passos' times than ours. Dos Passos pours most of his effort into this soldier's story, after the battle, but it fails to sustain its vigor, although his youthful restlessness and ambition borrowed from their author appear on the page as genuine and honest. The fault's more with the slow pace, unrelieved by excitement. This may portray a side of military life often left out of books, but it's dull.

As "a sort of socialist," Andrews hates "the psychology of slavery," although he must mutter this more than mouth it, for fear of a court-martial. Later in the novel, he and his fellows must face the courage of his convictions. Rumors of uprisings in Paris contend against punishment labor battalions and fates of deserters. From the vantage point of a fresh Soviet revolution, some of his fellow soldiers whisper their hopes for a Communist future; Dos Passos' registers their yearnings but his characteristic caution at any utopia peddled can also be sensed, despite his own radical yearnings at this time.

It's all described well, yet often repetitively. Conversations in one bar after another. Smells of food and rain and sludge. Dappled leaves alternate with mud and grease. Andrews' endemic ennui does drag long sections down after he recovers from a shrapnel wound and heads off to study in Paris. Here's a representative excerpt, as Andrews waits.

"There were other buglers. He wondered how many buglers there were in the army. He could picture them all, in dirty little villages, in stone barracks, in towns, in great camps that served the country for miles with rows of black warehouses and narrow barrack buildings standing with their feet a little apart; giving their little brass bugles a preliminary tap before putting out their cheeks and blowing in them and stealing a million and a half (or was it two million or three million) lives, and throwing the warm sentient bodies into coarse automatons who must be kept busy, lest they grow restive, till killing time began again."

The first up facing the bugle, Fuselli, from San Francisco, begins "Three Soldiers" to complete the trio, two coastal men and the Midwesterner representing a cross-section of America. Fuselli's swerve away from marching off to the front to putting in for an instant transfer to a post well behind the lines confused me. Perhaps Dos Passos meant to convey the inexplicable split-second decision made by a man under pressure, but without any prior preparation for this, Fuselli's ambition to rise in the ranks kept puzzling me, as he'd not shown any aversion to seeking out combat previously. He does show up briefly a couple hundred pages later, after falling out of favor during a battle, but this is left rather vague, via a quick conversation with Andrews, by now on "school detachment" at the Sorbonne.

Unlike Fuselli, but like Andrews, the other soldier enters the novel as a Casual (like Dos Passos himself), suited not for the regular Army. He and Andrews wait to be shipped off; Fuselli has been, but vanishes from much of the novel's middle sections. Chrisfield, a Hoosier farm boy, is jittery and brittle, but due more to his hair-trigger temperament rather than any reveries, as his pal "Andy" is prone to fall into, about a fin-de-siecle Queen of Sheba voluptuary's embrace. These earn prose recalling Stephen Dedalus' contemplations, minus the religion or the guilt. Andrews' vision of the France he finds is filtered through Flaubert. He falls for Jeanne, and stays in Paris to master piano.

"Chris" gets into scraps and he represents one of the common men with whom New York City-raised Andrews learns to deal with, however uneasily. They both wander, together and separately, into cafes, brothels, fields, and cities. Eventually, Chrisfield fades and Andrews continues largely on his own through the rest of the novel. The scenes stay simply composed, but remain attentively rendered in clear prose. It's the author's style, more than the often mundane plot, which keeps you intermittently involved. There's a welcome arrival or threat of military intervention that carries you with a bit more pep through the final chapter.

Dos Passos always faced critics who faulted him with treating his characters more as pieces to be manipulated than rounded figures. I welcome novelists who double as historians, taletellers who tend towards sociology, but those expecting more visceral tension and manufactured bouts may be disappointed by a conflict novel that tends to stay away from the thunder. Dos Passos sides with those who struggle against donning the uniform, who scrabble against the clanking ranks and file clerks. You can see in this early novel that his habitual manner of setting down his stories as social commentary more than psychological exploration remains, nonetheless, his characteristic approach as a writer, take it or leave it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Three Soldiers is a novel of the lost generation during World War I
John Dos Passos was the son of a Chicago attorney. He was born in 1894 living until 1970. He is most famous for his "USA Trilogy" and "Manhatten Transfer." The work under review is "Three Soldiers" set in the waning months and early years following World War I. It concerns:
1. Dan Fusseli a poor uneducated Italian-American from San Francisco who dreams of becoming a corporal, winning the hand of the girl back home and fighting the Germans. He realizes none of these modest goals.
2. Chris Chrisfield is a farmer from rural Indiana who murders a mean sergeant named Anderson. He deserts the American army following the war while stationed in Paris. He often dreams he is back home again in Indiana.
3. John Andrews like author Dos Passos is a Harvard graduate. He is a musician who is bored by the deadly mindless tedium of the army. He also deserts the army, meets a sophisticated Parisian woman and falls in love with a French barmaid. He is captured on the last page of the novel facing at least 20 years in Leavenworth for desertion.
It is manifest that Dos Passos has used the three main characters to represent the different geographical regions of the United States. The characters differ in their educational levels. All three musketeers become very disillusioned with America, the US Army and the government.
These characters mirror Dos Passos's hatred of war which he developed while serving a brief time in France during the war. At this time he was also infatuated with communism and the radical left wing of the political spectrum.The book reminds me of TS Eliot's "Wasteland" poem put into no-nonesense prose by the Harvard Midwestern author.
There is little plot development in the novel. Anyone expecting to read of World War I combat will be disappointed since no battle scenes are given. The regiment in the story does not get a chance to participate in the gory battles of that horrendous war.
Dos Passos is good at vivid descriptions and the inner feelings of his characters. We sense the boredom, fatigue and war weariness of the men involved. There is quite a lot of profanity for a book written in 1921. The book is realistic in its depiction men at war. I gave the book five stars since it does have a strong antiwar focus and deserves a wider readership. The novel could be well used in a classroom setting focused on World War I.

5-0 out of 5 stars what I wrote in The Guardian when an edition was published
John Dos Passos was one of the few to tackle all these themes in one work, the gigantic USA. In Three Soldiers, an early novel set during the war before Weimar, he draws on personal experience to capture the clackety-clack of the war-machine. As in his masterwork, he uses popular song and bittersweet evocations of innocent youth in the face of ruthless power to trace the breaking of young men's dreams. With his elaborate narrative structures and seemingly effortless prose he shows that it is not just war that requires the suppression of liberty but modern industrial society too. But unlike the greatest first world war novel Journey To The End Of The Night there are signposts here of socialist paths that led far away from dystopia.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good story, inexplicable behavior
The three soldiers to whom the title refers are Dan Fuselli, a working class Italian-American from San Francisco, "Chris" Chrisfield, an Indiana farm-boy, and John Andrews, from New York, the novel's main protagonist.All three went into the U.S. Army during the first world war and met during basic training. While Fuselli's big dream is to become a corporal and Chris just wants to get to the front to kill German soldiers, Andrews wants to become an accomplished musician and composer.Andrews is by no means a coward and does not shirk combat, but after the armistice is declared he has great difficulty taking orders from his superiors.As Andrews tells his French girlfriend, "every order shouted at me, every new humiliation before the authorities, was as great an agony to me."Andrews had managed to get permission from an officer for a School Detachment, which meant that he would be allowed to study music.He, instead, proceeds in a series of inexplicable misbehaviors to throw it all away.

_Three Soldiers_ is a colorfully written and probably fairly accurate study of various men's reactions to military life and the kind of discipline and regimentation inherent in that type of life.While many found it difficult to adjust to what they saw as a form of slavery, some of these soldiers chose to desert, believing they could eventually blend in with the civilian population on the European continent.Finding a French woman to marry seemed an easy solution.John Andrews was an intelligent, sensitive, well-educated and sophisticated young man.He even spoke French fluently.That he so capriciously chose the path that he did made absolutely no sense to me at all in this otherwise gripping and likable novel. ... Read more

7. World in a glass;: A view of our century selected from the novels of John Dos Passos
by John Dos Passos
Hardcover: 440 Pages (1966)

Asin: B0006BN96A
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8. Dos Passos: Novels 1920-1925: One Man's Initiation: 1917, Three Soldiers, Manhattan Transfer (The Library of America)
by John Dos Passos
Hardcover: 879 Pages (2003-09-15)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$12.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1931082391
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Before he began the U.S.A. trilogy, John Dos Passos prefigured his groundbreaking epic through three novels that provide a fascinating glimpse into his stunning achievement as an avant-garde prose stylist while they incisively chronicle early twentieth century Europe and America. Manhattan Transfer (1925), a kaleidoscopic portrait of New York City, is universally acknowledged as a modernist masterpiece. This lyrical, exuberantly experimental novel orchestrates the rising and falling fortunes of more than a dozen characters: Wall Street speculators, theatrical celebrities, impoverished immigrants, bootleggers, and anarchist rebels move through a maze of tenements and skyscrapers. The impressionistic One Man's Initiation: 1917 (1920) draws upon Dos Passos' experiences driving ambulances in France to portray the fear, uncertainty, and camaraderie of war. This Library of America edition includes passages censored by the book's original publisher. Three Soldiers (1921), here with the author's own introduction, delves deeply into the spiritual toll of war, dramatizing American servicemen fighting in battle, struggling against dehumanizing military regimentation, and experiencing the chaotic pleasures of Paris.

Along with its companion volumes Travel Books and Other Writings (see opposite page) and U.S.A. (Library of America, 1996), Novels 1920-1925 enriches our understanding of Dos Passos as a writer, thinker, and witness to history. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Pretty good
Fast shipping, the book itself was in great condition although the cover was a little more torn than I had expected! But still very satisfied!

4-0 out of 5 stars WWI:New York to Paris
In this Library of America edition, there are three Dos Passos novels of varying length and subject matter.The first, One Man's Initiation: 1917, is a brief, semi-autobiographical account of the author's tour of duty in the ambulance corps of WWI. One thing holds true for all Dos Passos novels and this is his devotion to linear narrative at the expense of plot development.Dos Passos writes phenomenally well, his imagery exquisite, but one may often wonder to what point it is directed.In longer novels, character formation may be such that the lack of plot is less evident, but One Man's Intiation isn't long enough to create a diversion.Instead, it appears an arbitrary stream of events with little or no objective.

Three Soldiers, the next offering, is an extended example of the first.Again, it takes place during WWI and recounts the US Army experiences of, to no surprise, three soldiers.Here, once more, is a linear narrative devoid of plot, but Dos Passos' character formation and imagery are powerful enough to divert attention.Dos Passos can certainly evoke a time and place and expertly contrasts the desperate, chaotic trenches with the metropolitan flair and relative ease of Paris.

The best of the lot is saved for last in Manhattan Transfer, a novel of early 20th-century New York.The city and it's inhabitants are fertile ground for Dos Passos' talents and he presents here what I consider his finest effort.Still largely plotless, the author nevertheless admirably narrates the pre-war lives of twelve people interconnected in various ways.One readily experiences the sights and sounds of New York and retains a notion of city life as it must have been 90 years ago.Manhattan Transfer alone merits 5 stars, but the inclusion of the first two books lower the rating of this collection to 4.Regardless, I strongly recommend this reading experience to anyone interested in WWI-era American literature.Dos Passos may be different, may be a taste acquired, but he is undoubtedly worthy of our attention.

4-0 out of 5 stars Best War Novel
Final Draft

Three Soldiers: Best War Novel

"How soons it take a feller to git out o'this camp", This quote in John Dos Passos Three Soldiers is typical for the soldiers for the soldiers of that time because, most of the men couldn't wait to charge into battle on the other side of the Atlantic. The authors main goal in the Three Soldiers is to show you what a soldier really goes through. John Dos Passos captures you in this novel how he shows you a soldier's life on the base and off. Also the different characteristics of the three soldiers, each one with a different back ground and each one going through the same struggles the brings to them. Even down to the languages the character uses told us the lifestyles for every day soldier.

Three Soldiers is about 3 men trapped in the world of war, Fuselli, Andrews, and Chrisfield. Each soldier took their own direction into the war. Each Soldier has their own purposes in the war whether it was to become a colonel or to be a war hero. John Dos Passos grabs the readers heart in this epic adventure each character faces.

Three Soldiers gets four stars due to the fact that the story is a bit confusing, as he jumps from the slang talk of the soldiers to the formal language of the colonels. The story takes place at a camp and moves on to the battlegrounds over sea. Each character had their own plot, Which is a great way to keep your attention, because three stories in one is always more interesting.

The setting jumps from the boring base to the treacherous battlefield. The setting is great because it emphasis's on the life of soldiers in that period. The blood and gore that is spread in the battlefield is such good imagery you thing your actually there. The sickness and the smell aboard the boat makes you gag by the use of diction John Dos Passos uses. John Dos Passos is no doubt one of the best with his words.

Also, the way the men speak to each other you could tell they weren't very educated, "you mean do I speak eyetalian, naw sir". The lieutenants speak the opposite with a more formal language, "Italian parentage, I presume? ". The language in this novel is somewhat confusing, because it's hard to read and try to understand what the soldiers are saying and get the story all in one.

The goal in this story for the characters is to get out of the war alive and to get the information back to the people in America about the brutality that goes on overseas. The goal they have to accomplish seems so impossible it grabs the reader's interest so strongly they won't be able to let go. The goals the characters face and defeat, make the novel unforgettable.

All in all, this novel is a great way to show how a soldier lives through a war. John Dos Passos is a great author of imagery and will capture the reader with the fear, love, and hatred these three soldiers go through. This novel could be by far the most realistic fiction novel written. ... Read more

9. The Fourteenth Chronicle: Letters and Diaries of John Dos Passos
by John Dos Passos
Hardcover: 664 Pages (1973-03-25)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$115.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0876450737
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In the 1960's John Dos Passos began calling his novel contemporary chronicles, and to his latestpiece of fiction he gave the working title The Thirteenth Chronicle. These letters abd duarues naje a chronicle too. ... Read more

10. The Big Money: Volume Three of the U.S.A. Trilogy
by John Roderigo Dos Passos
Paperback: 528 Pages (2000-05-25)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$4.94
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Asin: 0618056831
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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THE BIG MONEY completes John Dos Passos's three-volume "fable of America's materialistic success and moral decline" (American Heritage) and marks the end of"one of the most ambitious projects that an American novelist has ever undertaken" (Time). Here we come back to America after the war and find a nation on the upswing. Industrialism booms. The stock market surges. Lindbergh takes his solo flight. Henry Ford makes automobiles. From New York to Hollywood, love affairs to business deals, it is a country taking the turns too fast, speeding toward the crash of 1929.

Ultimately, whether the novels are read together or separately, they paint a sweeping portrait of collective America and showcase the brilliance and bravery of one of its most enduring and admired writers. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars Compelling
The Big Money is a very interesting and compelling novel that I'm glad to have read.It's actually the third book in the "USA Trilogy" following American culture through the first 3 decades of the 20th century (each novel covering one decade).The Big Money takes us through the 1920s.

The style is experimental and at times a little odd because of that.Had I not been reading this as part of a class or with some notes to help guide me, I'm certain I would have missed a lot of the nuances.

There are 4 different writing threads throughout the novel:
* Lives (actual story arcs of fictional characters)
* Biographies (mini-biographies of notable characters such as Ford, Hearst, and others)
* Newsreels (snippets from newspaper, radio, pop culture and other elements...pieced together poetically to convey a thought or thread)
* Camera Eye (commentary on what's going on...a sort of personal context outside of the story)

The way the novel is pieced together is very intriguing and made for fun reading.It provides some very interesting insights into what social, political and cultural life was like during this timeframe.The size and content can certainly be daunting, but the presentation is in bite-sized chunks which makes it more manageable.Still, I would recommend you pay close attention and perhaps have a quick link to wikipedia or other reference material in order to get the full perspective.

4 out of 5 stars

5-0 out of 5 stars All right, we are two nations
So says John Dos Passos in `The Big Money", Volume III of his USA Trilogy. Just as Benjamin Disraeli saw two nations in mid-19th century Britain ("who are formed by a different breeding, are fed by a different food, are ordered by different manners, and are not governed by the same laws...the rich and the poor"), John Dos Passos saw two nations in the United States in the roaring 1920s.

Dos Passos is one of the (sadly lesser known literary giants of the 20th-century. At the height of his fame in the 1930s he found himself on the same pedestal as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner. The first two volumes of the USA Trilogy (42nd Parallel and 1919) were enormous successes.By the time "The Big Money" was released in 1936, Jean-Paul Sartre hailed him as "the greatest writer of our time". Edmund Wilson's review went so far as to claim that Dos Passos was "the first of our writers, with the possible exception of Mark Twain, who has successfully used colloquial American for a novel of the highest artistic seriousness." Dos Passos' literary reputation began to change during the Spanish Civil War. Dos Passos, along with Hemingway and many other literary figures including George Orwell made his way to Spain to assist in the Republican cause. Like Orwell, Dos Passos was deeply affected by the brutal infighting amongst Republican supporters. In the case of Dos Passos he was deeply distressed by murder of a friend (anarchist and Johns Hopkins Professor Jose Robles) apparently executed by Stalinist cadres for his nonconforming radicalism. Hemingway mocked Dos Passos for his unmanly concern for his friend. Hemingway's friends and most of the hard left literary community joined in.It is no surprise that Dos Passos' next book was criticized severely. The New Masses magazine referred to it as a "crude piece of Trotskyist agit-prop". Dos Passos never reclaimed the popularity he had achieved with the USA Trilogy. Unlike Orwell, whose fame and reputation survived and grew after his Spanish Civil War experience, Dos Passos slowly fell out of the public eye.That fate is a shame when one considers the enormous energy and creativity that went into the USA Trilogy.

The idea oftwo paralel nations, one for the rich and their minions and one for the huddled masses, provides substance to Dos Passos' unique multi-media structure. In addition to the stories of these fictional characters, The Big Money is interspersed with mini-biographies of real people, newsreel clippings that place the story in a social a political context, and a series of autobiographical sketches (The Camera Eye) in which Dos Passos steps out from the story and provides his own personal context to the times.

The key fictional characters in "The Big Money" are Charley Anderson, Mary French, Margo Dowling, and Richard Ellsworth Savage.The "Great War" is over and the USA has, in the words of Warren G. Harding, returned to normalcy.The roaring 20s is in full swing". In one America the characters experience the world of prohibition and speakeasies; stock speculation by millions of Americans are buy and selling shares on profit and margins that are as ephemeral as they are risky.In the `other' America the characters see labor at war with management. Union busting and red baiting is the rule not the exception and urban workers; particularly immigrants are seen as Bolshevik threats.Charley Anderson crashes and burns after a meteoric rise. Mary French is absorbed in the workers' battles of the 1920s and Margo Dowling sleeps her way to fame and fortune in Hollywood.

The biographies cover the same two nation ground with min-biographies of Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers, Thorstein Veblen, Isadora Duncan, Rudolf Valentino, and William Randolph Hearst amongst them. Dos Passos' personal Camera Eye observations reach their emotional climax as the story reaches the execution of anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti. It is here where Dos Passos makes his two nations observation.

The Big Money is a worthy finale to The USA Trilogy.After re-reading the entire trilogy, thirty years or so after my first exposure to it in High School, I think it safe to say that it has still holds up under perhaps more mature observation.

The USA Trilogy remains one of the major literary works of the (U.S.) twentieth century and remains a work that should be read and read again.Highly recommended.

4-0 out of 5 stars Show Me the Money
Stacked up against other Lost Generation contemporaries like Hemingway or Fitzgerald, Dos Passos strikes a more minor key. His characters are unmemorable, his prose flat to the point of journalese, and his stabs at experiment, like the "Newsreels" interleafed between chapters, are so much chrome on some otherwise pretty conventional novelistic fenders.

But I think that limited scope is also a strength in his masterpiece, the USA Trilogy. With singleminded determination Dos Passos hammers together, scene by scene and newsreel by newsreel, a stark portrait of the Twenties as an era of greed, confusion, and above all a kind of free floating moral emptiness, a big, powerful, rudderless America cruising blithely on the froth of events. He shows you how the small guys get crushed without wallowing in a lot of sentiment about it, and how the fat cats alternately sleeken or decline into a sea of booze and betrayed ideals without resorting to cartoon stereotypes of `the Man'. You feel sorry for almost everyone on some level in this story, though Dos Passos keeps his lens distant enough to avoid pity, or the tragic glamour of a Jay Gatsby, in order to focus on the larger outlines of the postwar, post-Puritan world his specimens move in.

You don't need to read the preceding books in the Trilogy to enjoy The Big Money. It picks up the characters from the other two volumes, but the novel isn't really so much about these peopleas it is about the busts and bubbles that push them through history. It'll be hard to look at the Twenties as the colorful era of flappers, speakeasies, and the Charleston again after reading The Big Money; Dos Passos exposes the postwar malaise behind the excess in a way that brought to mind parallels with our own post 9/11 USA. I wonder who's our Dos Passos today? Maybe a filmmaker?

5-0 out of 5 stars The bitter gaze!
With the parallel 42 and the first catastrophe -1919 - this novel constitutes a trilogy focusing the sentimental , political and economic panorama of USA.
The big money talks about the generation that bloomed after the WW1 ; the lost generation the maxim expression of a media class in advanced discomposure state The story of its pathetic failure, hidden under the veils of the apparent triumph , of many characters who walk through the harsh proof years toward an uncertain destiny .
This book will give you a vital information about the possible consequences of a war to the moral and economic factors of a nation .
Dos Passos was somehow the echo of those dark voices in the first years of the XX Century best known as the perverse poets , headed for Baudelaire and Verlaine , whose role was to expose the crude realityno matter how filthy was .

3-0 out of 5 stars The whole is more than the sum of its parts
The first three decades of the twentieth century in the United States were pivotal in defining what, eventually, the nation would become.At the turn of the century the country was just beginning to find its feet on the world geopolitical scene, ceding power to the colonial powers of Europe but maintaining a dogged independence.A mere thirty years later the United States had not only risen to share world power but dared become a leader on the world stage as the country's wealth, ingenuity, and exportable culture transformed this former isolated nation.This transformation was not lost on John Dos Passos; neither was the importance of history in defining those qualities that became amalgamated and distilled into what is commonly known as national character.

To underscore the importance of these three decades, Dos Passos spent over six years in researching and writing what was to become his materpiece, The USA Trilogy.In these three novels, the author experimented with various narrative techniques combining traditonal story telling; stream of consciousness writing (The Camera Eye sections); biographies of important contemporary persons; clippings from newspapers; snatches of popular songs; advertisements, etc., that created a well definied historical foundation for the events and characters of his novels.Overall, the author was successful in his effort: seldom has history been so well understood by a writer of fiction.The reader not only shares the lives of Dos Passsos' characters but is fully immersed in the politics, culture and economic upheavals of those eras.

Seen as a whole, the trilogy is powerful; however, when the three novels are examined separately as individual works, weaknesses that were camouflaged by the success of the overall scheme are made manifest.The Big Money is the last and worst of the three parts.It seems that the author began to weary as he reached the end of his effort.Dos Passos spends less attention to the Camera Eye sections and biographies (by far, the best two areas of the trilogy) and spends the majority of his attention on developing and bringing to a conclusion the lives of his characters, some of whom have been present in every novel of the trilogy.His attempts at characterization were not successful and his characters come across as wooden caricatures, blindly following the plot from one episode to another, never giving any insight into what motivates them (with the possible exception of the pathetic Mary French).The reader just doesn't care for or about them.Also, perhaps Dos Passos was going through a sort of political catharsis himself and perhaps this added to the malaise and hastiness that is evident in this final novel.The darling of the American left would eventually become an avid backer of Barry Goldwater for President in 1964.Four stars for the trilogy, three stars for The Big Money. ... Read more

11. U.S.A: The 42nd parallel, Nineteen-nineteen, The big money
by John Dos Passos
 Hardcover: Pages (1938)

Asin: B0006DFRMM
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12. State of the Nation
by John Dos Passos
 Hardcover: Pages (1944-01-01)

Asin: B001JAVUHC
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13. War Novels Anthology (10 books)
by Homer, Leo Tolstoy, Rudyard Kipling, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Irvin S. Cobb, Andre Norton, John Dos Passos, Stephen Crane
Kindle Edition: Pages (2009-10-23)
list price: US$0.99
Asin: B002U0M5EW
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The Red Badge of Courage, An Episode of the American Civil War, Stephen Crane 1895
The Iliad of Homer
Three Soldiers, John Dos Passos 1921
Ride Proud, Rebel! Andre Alice Norton 1961
Jimmie Higgins, Upton Sinclair 1919
Paths of Glory, Irvin S. Cobb 1915
Dangerous Days, Mary Roberts Rinehart
Sea Warfare, Rudyard Kipling 1916
War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy 1865
The Adventures of Gerard, Arthur Conan Doyle 1903
... Read more

14. John Dos Passos: Travel Books and Other Writings 1916-1941 (Library of America)
by John Dos Passos
Hardcover: 865 Pages (2003-09-15)
list price: US$40.00 -- used & new: US$15.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1931082405
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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John Dos Passos witnessed the modern era's defining events and distilled their literary essence into an innovative, trademark pastiche style: "something like a multimedia event" in book form, wrote The New Yorker. As an ambulance driver during World War I, as an eyewitness to the Spanish Civil War, Italian Fascism, Mexican social upheaval, and post-revolutionary shifts in Russia and Central Asia, and as a participant in protests in the United States, Dos Passos charted cataclysms and his evolving response to them before the ink had dried in the history books. Now The Library of America restores to print his vibrant travel books-Rosinante to the Road Again (1922), Orient Express (1927), In All Countries (1934), and the Spanish Civil War material added to Journeys Between Wars (1938)-American classics Dos Passos wrote concurrently with his fictional masterpieces Three Soldiers, Manhattan Transfer (see opposite page), and U.S.A. Featured in this edition are full-color reproductions of Dos Passos' own remarkably vivid Orient Express watercolors.

This volume also restores to print the rare travel poems cycle A Pushcart at the Curb (1922); political and literary essays that dramatize his complicated relationship with communism; and a selection of early letters and diaries from World War I. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A classic resource of unforgettable literature
Ably edited by Townsend Ludington (Boshamer Professor of English and American Studies, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill), Dos Passos: Travel Books & Other Writings 1916-1941 is an 880-page anthology of diverse writings by John Dos Passos. In addition to his powerful work depicting on war, tension, and other crucial portraits of the twentieth-century world, Dos Passos: Travel Books & Other Writings 1916-1941 also collects together under one cover his various essays, letters, and diaries, including those that recall his time as an ambulance driver in World War I. Dos Passos: Travel Books & Other Writings 1916-1941 is a classic resource of unforgettable literature. Also very highly recommended is the companion volume (also edited by Townsend Ludington), John Dos Passos: Novels 1920-1925 (1931082391, $35.00) which features "One Man's Initiation: 1917"; "Three Soldiers"; and "Manhattan Transfer". ... Read more

15. Argument of John R. Dos Passos, esq. of New York in favor of recognition of Cuba by the United States
by John R. 1844-1917 Dos Passos
Paperback: 40 Pages (2010-07-28)
list price: US$15.75 -- used & new: US$11.61
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1176201670
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This volume is produced from digital images created through the University of Michigan University Library's large-scale digitization efforts. The Library seeks to preserve the intellectual content of items in a manner that facilitates and promotes a variety of uses. The digital reformatting process results in an electronic version of the original text that can be both accessed online and used to create new print copies. The Library also understands and values the usefulness of print and makes reprints available to the public whenever possible. This book and hundreds of thousands of others can be found in the HathiTrust, an archive of the digitized collections of many great research libraries. For access to the University of Michigan Library's digital collections, please see http://www.lib.umich.edu and for information about the HathiTrust, please visit http://www.hathitrust.org ... Read more

16. Tour of Duty: By John Dos Passos
by John Dos Passos
Hardcover: 336 Pages (1982-08-30)
list price: US$131.95 -- used & new: US$131.95
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Asin: 0837172799
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17. U.S.A. Three Volumes - Complete (3 USA)
by John Dos Passos
 Hardcover: Pages (1960)

Asin: B000JJXRV6
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18. Classic American Fiction: three early novels by Dos Passos in a single file
by John Dos Passos
Kindle Edition: Pages (2010-08-09)
list price: US$0.99
Asin: B003Z0CVFO
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According to Wikipedia: " John Roderigo Dos Passos (January 14, 1896 – September 28, 1970) was an American novelist and artist... Considered one of the Lost Generation writers, Dos Passos's first novel was published in 1920. Titled One Man's Initiation: 1917 it was followed by an antiwar story, Three Soldiers, which brought him considerable recognition... His major work is the U.S.A. trilogy comprising The 42nd Parallel (1930), Nineteen Nineteen or 1919 (1932), and The Big Money (1936). Dos Passos used experimental techniques in these novels, incorporating newspaper clippings, autobiography, biography and fictional realism to paint a vast landscape of American culture during the first decades of the twentieth century. Though each novel stands on its own, the trilogy is designed to be read as a whole. Dos Passos's political and social reflections in the novel are deeply pessimistic about the political and economic direction of the United States, and few of the characters manage to hold onto their ideals through the First World War... In an often cited 1936 essay, Sartre referred to Dos Passos as "the greatest writer of our time"." ... Read more

19. First Encounter
by John Dos Passos
 Hardcover: Pages (2005-03)
list price: US$19.50
Isbn: 0404200834
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20. John Dos Passos' Manhattan Transfer
by Sinclair Lewis
 Hardcover: Pages (1926-01-01)

Asin: B001MUYR56
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