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1. Biography - Mencken, H. L. (1880-1956):
2. Happy Days: Mencken's Autobiography:
3. A Mencken chrestomathy, edited
4. The bathtub hoax, and other blasts
5. Mencken and Sara: A Life in Letters
6. Thirty-five Years of Newspaper
7. Disturber of the Peace: The Life
8. A Religious Orgy in Tennessee:
9. The Skeptic: A Life of H. L. Mencken
10. Diary 0f H.l. Mencken, The
11. H L Mencken On American Literature
12. Prejudices: A Selection (Maryland
13. In Defense of Marion: The Love
14. From Baltimore to Bohemia: The
15. Letters of H. L. Mencken
16. Serpent in Eden: H.L. Mencken
17. Ich Kuss Die Hand: The Letters
18. H.L. Mencken (Literature and Life)
19. A Choice of Days
20. Minority Report (Maryland Paperback

1. Biography - Mencken, H. L. (1880-1956): An article from: Contemporary Authors Online
by Gale Reference Team
Digital: 32 Pages (2007-01-01)
list price: US$9.95 -- used & new: US$9.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0007SDUT8
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Editorial Review

Book Description
Word count: 9369. ... Read more

2. Happy Days: Mencken's Autobiography: 1880-1892 (Maryland Paperback Bookshelf)
by H. L. Mencken
Paperback: 330 Pages (1996-06-19)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$12.00
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Asin: 0801853389
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Book Description

Though best known for his caustic newspaper columns, H. L. Mencken's most enduring contribution to American literature may be his autobiographical writings, most of which first appeared in the New Yorker. In Happy Days, Mencken recalls memories of a safe and happy boyhood in the Baltimore of the 1880s and celebrates a way of life that he saw swiftly changing--from a time of straw hats and buggy rides to locomotives and bread lines.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Mencken on his nonage
H.L. Mencken temporarily resigned from his job as a newspaper columnist before the Second World War, deeming his political opinions too controversial for print. In the ensuing interregnal period, he focused hisattention on writing a series of memoirs, which later turned into a threevolume autobiography, of which Happy Days is the first part. In its pages,he relates his early fascination with police officers, food, literature andpedagogues, subjects that forever interested him.He also, astonishingly,recounts successful athletic exploits (astonishing because he grew into arotund and stumpy man, who considered sports "nonsensical"). Readers familiar with Mencken's caustic columns will enjoy learning how hisstrong opinions were formed.Readers unfamiliar with him should still findthis book highly palatable, for it is colorfully written, interfusing"the language of the free lunch counter" with latin phrases andsearing adjectives.This memoir is as well-written as later newspapercolumnist Russell Baker's "Growing Up," but is a hell of a lotfunnier. ... Read more

3. A Mencken chrestomathy, edited and annotated by the author
by H. L. (Henry Louis) (1880-1956) Mencken
 Hardcover: Pages (1949)

Asin: B000P1VESG
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4. The bathtub hoax, and other blasts & bravos from the Chicago tribune. Edited, with an introd. and notes, by Robert McHugh
by H. L. (Henry Louis) (1880-1956) Mencken
 Hardcover: Pages (1958)

Asin: B000WVU08E
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5. Mencken and Sara: A Life in Letters : The Private Correspondence of H.L. Mencken and Sara Haardt
by H. L. Mencken, Sara Haardt, Sara Haardt Mencken
 Hardcover: 551 Pages (1987-01)
list price: US$22.95 -- used & new: US$18.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0070415056
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars The only love story I ever read cover-to-cover.
Sarah Haardt was a true Southern Bell and, unfortunately, this book gives little insight into what a remarkable women she was in her own right. I am a Mencken fan and, if he was a bigot, then I am also a bigot. I think he had too little patience for Southern culture and those less intelligent than himself, which would have been a large percentage of the population. But I think writing was his salvation being an intellectual castaway amid a virtual sea of stupidity in his time and place. If you like to watch the slow development of a firm foundation for marriage and a relatively happy ending, and I think increasingly lonely, aging curmudgeon gets younger wife and perfect intellectual companion in one cute package certainly qualifies, this might be a good choice.

2-0 out of 5 stars For Mencken Fans Only
This book is a collection of the private letters between Henry LouisMencken and Sara Haardt during their long courtship. In these letters, onewill find much that will interest the Mencken fan, but little of much trueinterest. There is no dirt to be had here, just the reflections of a coupleof people who are very fond of each other and very fond of writing. One maygain an insight into the times in which they live and the hardships ofProhibition and of life in the 1920's in general, but a thorough reading ofMencken's other works is far more revealing. ... Read more

6. Thirty-five Years of Newspaper Work: A Memoir by H. L. Mencken (Maryland Paperback Bookshelf)
by H. L. Mencken
 Hardcover: 416 Pages (1994-08-01)
list price: US$36.00
Isbn: 0801847915
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"No greater prose stylist ever wrote for an American newspaper. It is always useful and enjoyable to be reminded of this, as Thirty-five Years of Newspaper Work most certainly does... Should be required reading not merely for all newspaper people but for all those who labor in what we now call 'the media.'" -- Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World

In January 1991 the Enoch Pratt Free Library opened the sealed manuscript of H. L. Mencken's "Thirty-five Years of Newspaper Work." Written in 1941-42 and bequeathed to the library under time-lock upon Mencken's death in 1956, it is among the very last of his papers opened to the public. Thirty-five Years of Newspaper Work, a one-volume edition of highlights from the manuscript, vividly pictures the excitement of newspaper life in the heyday of print journalism.

Here Mencken colorfully recalls his years--mostly with the Baltimore Evening Sun--as a reporter and a writer of editorials that always caused a stir among the public and riots of indignation among his enemies. The volume includes important new material on his coverage of presidential candidates from 1912 to 1940 and the 1925 trial of the man he called the "infidel Scopes."

"The book reveals a man who loved food, alcohol, cigars, and good friends... Mencken had so many friends in high places that a few well-placed telephone calls invariably got him to the heart of the matter and revealed more information than any other reporter could solicit." -- Raymond L. Fischer, USA Today

... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars An engaging look at a bygone era

"This, after all, is MY story, and so I do not apologize for its pervasive subjectivity."

So said Mencken in the preface, and good for him.While his usual verbal pyrotechnics give way to straight reporting here, you always know exactly where he stood.

The book's focus is Mencken's association with the Baltimore Sunpapers.His Free Lance column established his iconoclastic reputation locally.He helped draft the White Paper ("the doctrine that public officials, under democracy, were predominantly frauds, and hence did not deserve to be taken seriously") that became the basis for the company's success during the Roaring Twenties.He represented the paper in its dispute with Baltimore's Catholic archbishop over a reporter's questionable judgment.Despite outside commitments (he wrote and co-wrote more than 20 books, edited two magazines, and wrote hundreds of articles for other newspapers and magazines during this period), he remained a columnist for decades, and eventually joined the board of directors.

Mencken occasionally had a problem with years; he later placed the 1925 Scopes trial and Bryan's death in 1926, and refers back to the 1928 conventions as having happened in 1924.He finished this account before writing Heathen Days; parts of each book overlap, but, save for several Scopes trial passages and a few other adventures, aren't repeated.Even to his Scopes notes, he added many previously unpublished details.

Interesting details abound.In addition to his job, Mencken remembers peers in his field, oppressive censorship and anti-German discrimination during World War I, acquiring liquor during Prohibition, the establishment of Time magazine ("I was surprised by its immense success, for it was marked at the start, as it still is today, by a pretentious and puerile style of writing and a pervasive ignorance and inaccuracy"), several of his trips abroad, and the transient self-aggrandizing government timeservers who became "as completely forgotten as the politicians of the Polk administration".Then there are the humorous moments, such as his lodging arrangements at the 1920 Republican convention:

"I roomed with Kent, and had two disconcerting surprises the first night.The first came when he got down on his knees beside his bed and began to pray audibly and volubly, clad in an old-fashioned nightshirt.The second followed soon afterward, as he fell asleep.Never in my life have I heard more appalling snoring.All the ordinary sounds were there, but in addition there were others - for example, a series of crescendo gurgles ending in what seemed to be strangulation, with both the performer and me leaping up in our beds.The next night I managed to have Kent bunked with Adams, and so got some sleep."

The book is also a window into a transitional era.Cars and airplanes increased in popularity, but passenger trains remained the main mode of transportation for long distances:some of Mencken's fonder memories occurred on and near trains.Wireless telegraphy evolved into commercial radio.The telephone helped facilitate the reporter's job as it became more common.

Above all, this is Mencken as only Mencken could write; clear, opinionated, and quotable.This thoroughly enjoyable reading experience makes me glad he lived when he did:if his like were to come along again, he'd be barred from today's dumbed-down mainstream media.

... Read more

7. Disturber of the Peace: The Life of H.L. Mencken (Commonwealth Classics in Biography)
by William Raymond Manchester
 Paperback: 376 Pages (1986-11)
list price: US$18.95
Isbn: 0870235443
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Lion of the Twenties still roaring
I highly recommend this book to anyone who admire's the genius of H.L. Mencken. Manchester has created an in-depth account of the "Lion of the Twenties," from his early childhood in Baltimore as the son of a German-American cigar company owner, to his acendence to the pinnacle of the American intellectual renaissance of the 1920's. Manchester sculpts a palpable and staunch profile of the self-described "conservative anarchist," who made his mark as the editor of the influencial American Mercury magazine, writer/editor for the Baltimore Sun, and author of The American Language, the penultimate chronicle of American English. Mencken was a prolific pundit, scholar, social critic,reader and writer, blessed with a caustic wit, a hair-trigger mind, and an impossibly contrarian nature. His voracity for reading was so deep that he was known to read a motor repair manual "just because it was another human being trying to communicate." No one escaped his crticism with socialists, Christian Fundamentalists, and politicians particularly targeted. Manchester's writing, as in all his excellent works (I also highly recommend "Goodbye Darkness," Manchester's memoir of his combat service in the South Pacific as a U.S. Marine in WWII, five stars)is wonderfully rich. Manchester's style also has a lot of Mencken in it, which is another reason I liked the book. I don't know if he was consciously attempting to pay homage through stylistic similarities, but the cadence, language and were reminiscent of Mencken's works, and gave me the feeling it was really Mencken telling his life story through the hand of Manchester. Not a bad guy to emulate, even when you're as good as Manchester. ... Read more

8. A Religious Orgy in Tennessee: A Reporter's Account of the Scopes Monkey Trial
by H. L. Mencken
Paperback: 206 Pages (2006-09)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$10.30
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Asin: 1933633174
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"The native American Voltaire, the enemy of all puritans, the heretic in the Sunday school, the one-man demolition crew of the genteel tradition."-Alistair Cooke

Fiercely intelligent, scathingly honest, and hysterically funny, H.L. Mencken's coverage of the Scopes Monkey Trial so galvanized the nation that it eventually inspired a Broadway play and hit movie.

Mencken's no-nonsense sensibility is still exciting: his perceptive rendering of the courtroom drama; his piercing portrayals of key figures Scopes, Clarence Darrow, and William Jennings Bryan; his ferocious take on the fundamentalist culture surrounding it all-including a raucous midnight trip into the woods to witness a secret "holy roller" service.

Shockingly, these reports have never been gathered together into a book of their own-until now.

A Religious Orgy in Tennessee includes all of Mencken's reports for The Baltimore Sun, The Nation, and The American Mercury. It even includes his coverage of Bryan's death just days after the trial-an obituary so withering Mencken was forced to rewrite it (both versions are included, although the rewrite seems, if anything, even less forgiving).

With the rise of "intelligent design," Mencken's work has never seemed more unnervingly timely-or timeless.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

1-0 out of 5 stars On the other hand....There's nothing about the trial
The Scope trial would fit into today's world so easily.Each side was absolutely 100% correct and the other side was 100% wrong.Now compromise was even thinkable.

H.L. Mencken was sent to cover the trial and report on it.I always like first hand accounts of historic events, and find them to be best place to get the true atmosphere of what was going on at a specific time or place.

H.L. Mencken's reporting tells almost NOTHING of the trial, and is page after page of blistering indictment against anyone who has the slightest glimmer of faith in their life.He came across to me as a very sad individual.

And to previous reviewers who states: "We need to stop being polite to superstition and H.L. Mencken is a good example to emulate in our endeavors to bring rationality back to our reason-starved nation and planet.", In this case, 83 years later, the roles are now 100 reversed.Any whisper of "intelligent design" or faith be even mentioned in schools is immediately attacked and squashed as fanatically as the evolutionists were in Dayton in 1925.

If you want an indictment of religion from the media circus that was the Scopes trial, this would be an excellent book.If you want to learn anything ABOUT the Scope's trial, this isn't it.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Religious Orgy in Tennessee--Then, Today and Tomorrow
It's 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee.The state has recently enacted legislation requiring that creationism (known now as intelligent design) be taught in all publicly financed schools.John Scopes, a highly principled teacher and "infidel" refuses to comply with this edict.His defiance becomes the catalyst for one of the most anticipated trials in US history, the Scopes Monkey Trial.Attorney for the defense is Clarence Darrow.State attorney A. T. Stewart is the prosecutor, aided by erstwhile presidential candidate, William Jennings Bryan.Covering the trial for the Baltimore Sun and for posterity, is that acerbic scribe, H. L. Mencken.

In a packed 90 degree courtroom, litigants and audience alike endure 11 days of sweltering heat and blistering condemnation from both sides of the most volatile issue since the issue itself.

Mencken's daily reports from July 10 to July 21 are replete with critism and witticism.His, at times, withering commentary is clearly slanted agnostic.He makes no affectation whatsoever toward unbiased reporting.With his amazing command of the english language, he's more an elegant verbal assassin than news reporter.Mencken leaves no earth unscorched, from the "local yokels" to the "ignoramuses" who purport to govern them.His most potent venom is reserved for William Jennings Bryan.Bryan is seated as a bible expert and witness for the prosecution as he faces off against Clarence Darrow.Darrow presents compelling scientific facts refuting creationism, while Bryan defers to meaningless scripture and ridiculous superstition, advancing neither his cause nor his standing amoung the country's thinking elite.

A Religious Orgy in Tennessee is a compilation of newspaper articles.One should probably be an agnostic and Mencken fan to enjoy it.Also, have a dictionary close at hand.You'll need it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Inspirational!
Religious Orgy in Tennessee was like filet mignon for my brain.To think that in 1925 the voice of reason was so strong yet now all we hear are whispers. Chris Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris are all very good, but they don't have the flare and finesse of H.L. Mencken.Yes, he's blunt, but he's right about religion.We need to stop being polite to superstition and H.L. Mencken is a good example to emulate in our endeavors to bring rationality back to our reason-starved nation and planet.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant...Classic Mencken
I am a huge fan of H. L. Mencken and this addition to the library doesn't disappoint.Mencken was one of America's most respected, despised, and feared journalists. As the number one literary enemy of the fundamentalist most of his career, Mencken was in his element at the John Scopes trial that pitted the science of evolution against the mythology of fundamentalist Christianity.

In 1925, Mencken drew the nation's attentions to a trial taking place in Dayton, Tennessee that would test the boundaries of a new law (the Butler Act) that prohibited the teaching of: "any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals." One enterprising individual set about testing the law by asking a local teacher (a friend sympathetic with the cause) to teach Darwin's theory of evolution. That teacher was 24-year-old John T. Scopes.Lasting eight days in the courtroom and eleven days in total, the weather was painfully hot probably irritating Mencken even more.

Writing for the Baltimore Evening Sun, Mencken's verbal energy and acute wit are stunning (no journalist, pundit, or commentator today even comes close). And much of his sarcastic eloquence comes, of course, at the expense of the key figure at the trial William Jennings Bryan.As the billing promises, these reports are by the most famous newspaperman in American history are vivid, highly intelligent, scathingly honest, and hysterically funny.

Mencken saw the transparent attempt at keeping evolution from being taught in schools contemptible, and the Scopes trial as ample opportunity to ridicule the "yokels," "half-wits," and "buffoons" who believe that man is not a mammal and the earth is less then 6,000 years old. But Mencken left his most venomous criticisms for those representing the prosecution, especially Democratic presidential candidate and fundamentalist Christian William Jennings Bryan.Five days after the end of the trial, Bryan died. In writing one of three scathing Bryan obituaries, Mencken opines:

"The meaning of religious freedom, I fear, is sometimes greatlymisapprehended.It is taken to be some sort of immunity, not merely from governmental control but also from public opinion.A dunderhead gets himself a long-tailed coat, rises behind the sacred desk, and emits such bilge as would gag a Hottentot.Is it to pass unchallenged?If so, then what we have is not religious freedom at all, but the most intolerable and outrageous variety of religious despotism.Any fool, once he is admitted to the wholly orders, becomes infallible.Any half-wit, by the simple device of ascribing his delusions to revelation, takes on an authority that is denied to all the rest of us."

"I do not know how many Americans entertain the ideas defended so ineptly by poor Bryan, but probably the number is very large...though they are thus held to be sound by millions, these ideas remain mere rubbish.Not only are they not supported by the known facts; they are in direct contravention of the known facts.No man whose information is sound and whose mind functions normally can conceivable credit them.They are the products of ignorance and stupidity, either or both."

"What should be a civilized man's attitude to such superstition?It seems to me that the only attitude possible to him is one of contempt.If he admits that they have any intellectual integrity whatever, he admits that he himself has none.If he pretends to a respect for those who believe in them, he pretends falsely, and sinks almost to their level.When he is challenged he must answer honestly, regardless of tender feelings.That is what Darrow did at Dayton, and the issue plainly justified the act.Bryan went there in a hero's shinning armor, bent deliberately upon a gross crime against sense.He came out a wrecked and preposterous charlatan, his tail between his legs.Few Americans have ever done so much for their country in a whole lifetime as Darrow did in two hours."

This volume includes all of Mencken's daily reports for The Baltimore Sun, as well as additional stories filed for The Nation and The American Mercury. It also includes his coverage of Bryan's death just days after the trial, plus numerous rare photos, and the full transcript of Darrow's historic cross-examination of Bryan. Oh wouldn't Mencken have a field day with with our fearless fundamentalist leader were he alive today!Alas, journalists like Mencken just don't exist anymore.Highly recommended reading and very contemporary as it seems little has changed in the "bible belt." ... Read more

9. The Skeptic: A Life of H. L. Mencken
by Terry Teachout
Hardcover: 432 Pages (2002-11-01)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$1.55
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060505281
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Journalist, muckraker, political gadfly, atheist, and conservative dissident, H.L. Mencken "was to the first part of the twentieth century what Mark Twain was to the last part of the nineteenth--the quintessential voice of American letters." So says the eminent critic Terry Teachout in this landmark biography, which explores why Mencken has been largely forgotten today.

Mencken held to ideas that history was busily sweeping aside. He railed against the growing power of the federal government in the early years of the Roosevelt administration, insisting on an elitist brand of politics that favored the "superior man." He advocated an isolationist course in world affairs, even as totalitarian powers swallowed up whole nations; he agitated against progressive domestic causes; and, albeit ironically, he proposed that capital punishment be turned into a public entertainment. Yet he wrote some of the best, most cruelly entertaining journalism of his time, reporting on great trials, minor crimes, and political conventions, skewering received opinion.

Mencken was "something more than a memorable stylist, if something less than a wise man," Teachout concludes. This careful portrait--the first full-length biography to appear in more than 30 years--gives ample evidence for that verdict. --Gregory McNameeBook Description

When H. L. Mencken talked, everyone listened -- like it or not. In the Roaring Twenties, he was the one critic who mattered, the champion of a generation of plain-speaking writers who redefined the American novel, and the ax-swinging scourge of the know-nothing, go-getting middle-class philistines whom he dubbed the "booboisie." Some loved him, others loathed him, but everybody read him. Now Terry Teachout takes on the man Edmund Wilson called "our greatest practicing literary journalist," brilliantly capturing all of Mercken's energy and erudition, passion and paradoxes, in a masterful biography of this iconoclastic figure and the world he shaped.

From his carefree days as a teenage cub reporter in turn-of-the-century Baltimore to his noisy tenure as founding editor of the American Mercury, the most influential magazine of the twenties, Mencken distinguished himself with a contrary spirit, a razor-sharp wit (he coined the term "Bible Belt"), and a keen eye for such up-and-coming authors as Theodore Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, Willa Cather, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. He covered everything, from the Scopes evolution trial to the 1948 presidential elections, in the pages of the Baltimore Sun. He wrote bestselling books about the failure of democracy, the foibles of the female sex, and what he memorably called "the American language." But his favorite topic was the one he saw wherever he looked: the sterile, life-denying strain of puritanism that he believed was strangling the culture of his native land.

No modern writer has been more controversial than H. L. Mencken. His fans saw him as the fearless leader of the endless battle against ignorance and hypocrisy, while his enemies dismissed him as a cantankerous, self-righteous ideologue. The surging popularity of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the politician he hated most, eventually caused his star to fade, but the unsparing vigor of his critique of American life and letters -- and the raucously colloquial prose style in which he blasted the Babbitts -- retains its freshness and relevance to this day.

Himself an accomplished critic and journalist, Terry Teachout has combed through reams of Mencken's private papers, including the searingly candid autobiographical manuscripts sealed after his death in 1956. Out of this material he has fashioned a portrait of the artist as intellectual gadfly, working newspaperman, devoted husband, and faithless ]over. Meticulously researched, elegantly written, and completely absorbing, The Skeptic vividly evokes the life and legacy of a true American legend.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (27)

4-0 out of 5 stars 4 STARS
I already knew a lot about Mencken when I bought this book. I learned a lot from reading it. I think it does a great job of compressing a large life into a workable package without missing much of the important events and people.

On the otherhand the reading is a bit tedious. The introduction was marvelous, though. Mencken's diaries are tedious reading, too.

The book is a nice addition to my Mencken collection.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Book about a Complex Personage
H.L.M. was one of the greater journalists who ever lived in America.More so than almost anyone, he lifted an intellectual class up from the chains of religious orthodoxy.He had an amazing gift for epigrams, penses, and bon mots.He also promoted several authors we take for granted today into the limelight which first shone upon them.Finally, he wrote some of the best books (e.g., Happy Days) about turn of the century life.

However, he was also an anti-Semite (although he had many close Jewish friends) and was utterly blind to the evils of Hitler.As he gets older, his grasp of world begins to weaken.

Today I'm sure the politically correct crowd writes him off without thought as 'a dead, white, male', little appreciating the high irony that H.L.M. created virtually single handedly the liberal atmosphere of discourse on which they depend.

Teachout has done a superb job of updating his life from numerous sources which have only become available recently.It is a tale rich in period detail and interesting characters.Dreiser, Sinclair, Knopf, Bryan, Twain and others walk through this narrative and each leaves a memorable wake behind them.

You should read this book for the quotes from H.L.M. alone.The period details and the famous personages in the narrative will significantly compound the reward you get for reading this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Life of H. L. Mencken.
_The Skeptic:A Life of H. L. Mencken_ by critic Terry Teachout is an interesting biography of the Baltimore newspaperman, iconoclast, and cynic H. L. Mencken.Mencken (1880 - 1956) was a journalist and writer who lived in Baltimore throughout most of his life.He is perhaps best known for his sarcastic and abrasive style in which he pilloried the dominating viewpoints of his day.Mencken was an atheist and materialist largely influenced by German thinkers such as Nietzsche as well as the Social Darwinists of his era.Politically, Mencken's views may be described as libertarian and he remained an opponent of "puritanism" (particularly concerning alcohol during the Prohibition period) and the entry of the United States into the world wars.Mencken also was a fervent opponent of F.D.R., whose policies he firmly disagreed with.In addition, Mencken frequently directed his rage at such figures as William Jennings Bryan and others who sought to disallow the teaching of Darwinian evolution.Mencken also frequently attacked what he sarcastically termed "quakery" in medicine, as well as Christian Science which was a particular dislike of his.This book provides a fascinating account of this man whose writings remain an essential part of American literature.As an ardent enemy of the political correctness of his day, Mencken can be profitably read both for his humorous style and for his profound commentary.

The book begins with Mencken's early life growing up in Baltimore.To understand Mencken fully, one must understand the Baltimore of his era.Early on Mencken joined organizations such as the Y.M.C.A. but found it not to his taste when they began preaching Christianity to him.Mencken became a lifelong skeptic as his father had been.Mencken's father owned a cigar factory which Mencken soon began work for.His father's bourgeois views were reflected in Mencken's later writings.However, Mencken soon grew dissatisfied with his job at the cigar factory and when his father died he sought work as a newspaper writer.Mencken had a knack for newspaper work and quickly grew in the ranks of writers.He also developed as an abrasive critic of the American "booboisie" (the middle classes).Mencken also had broader aesthetic interests and early on took an interest in the philosophy of Nietzsche (at the time regarded as a dangerous thinker).Mencken, whose own ancestry was largely German, admired German culture and this may have led to his love for Nietzsche.Mencken wrote books on both Nietzsche and Shaw which have become minor classics.Mencken also was heavily influenced by Mark Twain, whose works he read as a young boy.Early on, Mencken became friends with and took an active interest in such writers as Theodore Dreiser and Sinclair Lewis, both of whom he admired.Mencken had a lifelong hatred for puritanism and in President Wilson he perceived the policies of a puritan.Given Mencken's love for Germany and German culture it is understandable that he would oppose Anglo-Saxon dominance and the entry of the United States into World War I.Mencken also greatly enjoyed drinking alcohol, so during the time of Prohibition his hatred for puritanism grew to enormity.Mencken also continued to write pieces critical of religion as well as an interesting essay on women, which is sure to provoke the ire of latter-day feminists.Although Mencken is rumored to have been anti-semitic, he had many Jewish friends including Alfred J. Knopf and together with George Nathan published _The American Mercury_.In addition to commenting on the political scene, Mencken also commented on such things as medicine and "quack cures" and the teaching of Darwinism at the Scopes trial where he served as a reporter.Mencken developed a lifelong aversion to F.D.R. and firmly opposed his policies.However, it was the entry of the United States into World War II which particularly enraged Mencken.Mencken married but towards the end of his life developed an intense hypochondria.This led to a stroke which effectively ended his writing carrier, although he continued to collect his papers after it.

This book provides an excellent biographical account of H. L. Mencken and his life and times.It is the account of a fascinating figure who remains highly important for American letters.

2-0 out of 5 stars enjoyable but flawed
Terry Teachout, who writes for the New York Times, the National Review, and others has written a very short but enjoyable biography of H.L. Mencken. It was only when I read another Mencken biography that puts some episodes of Mencken's life into a very different light that I began to reconsider my assessment of this biography.

One problem is that this book gets facts wrong. In his later years Mencken claimed that he came by his first job as a journalist by applying for it every day until he got it. In earlier years, his story was completely different he got it at the first try; it "improved with time," without Teachout catching on.Teachout also writes that "Mencken did not pay well enough to consistently attract established talent... Forced to search for new faces...necessity also inspired him to look in places where others feared to tread. He reveled, for example, in printing the work of black writers." Another biography reveals that Mencken had long been extremely keen to promote African-American writers, to the extent that he tried to establish up a magazine devoted solely to African-American writers and culture, but couldn't raise the funds. He also was vociferous in speaking out against lynching at a time when this made him few friends, and cost his employer quite a bit of money.Teachout and other biographers seem to describe completely different people. Mencken's exact views could be hard to pin down; on some issues he contradicted himself in word and deed, sadlyTeachout doesn't adequately reflect on this ambiguity.

A strong point of this biography is that Teachout correctly describes how Mencken had a legendarily acidulous and humorous pen, and how many of the frauds he took on - quacks, cult leaders, faith healers, politicians against evolution, superpatriots, Prohibitionists, and more - deserved every diatribe he sent their way. As Teachout mentions, Mencken unfortunately he didn't only lampoon fashions people adopted and careers people chose, but also ethnic groups, in tracts that do not make for too pleasant reading.

Another trifle is Teachout's version of Mencken's romance with Marion Bloom. In his account, the relationship foundered because Mencken was unwilling to marry a woman born in poverty. Another biography, however, describes how Mencken viscerally disliked Christian Science, which he deemed to be quackery. When she tried convert him to Christian Science, to which she had converted after the romance began, he would go into purple rages. And yet she couldn't stop.Having known people with persistent and idiosyncratic religious beliefs, Mencken's version strikes me as painfully believable. In Teachout's book, however, Christian Science is described as Mencken's fig leaf to avoid admitting that the relationship foundered over her having poor origins. Mencken eventually married an ailing woman only expected to live for three years and unable to have children; this is not the mark of a complete egoist and snob.

Biographers are free to - even expected to - add their interpretations to the facts of their subject's life. But readers shouldn't come to realize that the facts and insinuations in different biographies cannot be reconciled.

5-0 out of 5 stars Superb biography
There have been many biographies written about H. L. Mencken.This is the best. Elegantly written and succinct, readers can learn much from this idiosyncratic man of letters.Unlike other biographies, you can glean much without knowing every minute detail. ... Read more

10. Diary 0f H.l. Mencken, The
by H.L. Mencken
Hardcover: 476 Pages (1989-12-03)
list price: US$30.00 -- used & new: US$9.87
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Asin: 039456877X
Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Book Description
A Historical Treasure: the never-before, published diary of the most outspoken, iconoclastic, ferociously articulate of American social critics -- the sui generis newspaperman, columnist for the Baltimore Sun, editor of The American Mercury, and author of The American Language, who was admired, feared, and famous for his merciless puncturing of smugness, his genius for deflating pomposity and pretense, his polemical brilliance. Walter Lippmann called him, in 1926, "the most powerful personal influence on this whole generation of educated Americans."

H. L. Mencken's diary was, at his own request, kept sealed in the vaults of Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Library for a quarter of a century after his death. The diary covers the years 1930 -- 1948, and provides a vivid, unvarnished, sometimes shocking picture of Mencken himself, his world, and his friends and antagonists, from Theodore Dreiser, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, and William Faulkner to Franklin D. Roosevelt, for whom Mencken nourished a hatred that resulted in spectacular and celebrated feats of invective.

From the more than 2,000 pages of typescript that have now come to light, the Mencken scholar Charles A. Fecher has made a generous selection of entries carefully chosen to preserve the whole range, color, and impact of the diary. Here, full scale, is Mencken the unique observer and disturber of American society. And here too is Mencken the human being of wildly contradictory impulses: the skeptic who was prey to small superstitions, the dare-all warrior who was a hopeless hypochondriac, the loving husband and generous friend who was, alas, a bigot.

Mencken emerges from these pages unretouched -- in all the often outrageous gadfly vitality that made him, at his brilliant best, so important to the intellectual fabric of American life. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

1-0 out of 5 stars An Immense Disappointment
This book should never have been published. In fact, in his will, H. L. Mencken specified that it should never be published. Diaries, the one by Samuel Pepys being the exception, seldom make for marvelous reading, and this is probably the only dull thing Mencken ever wrote.We get to learn of many banquets and meetings with forgotten men, complaints about the neighbors, and an endless litany of physical complaints. (Mencken was a hypochondriac.) What's worse, there are the infamous grumblings and unkind words about Jews which served to ruin Mencken's reputation. Absent is the wit Mencken was celebrated for. ... Read more

11. H L Mencken On American Literature
by H. L. Mencken
Hardcover: 304 Pages (2002-07-15)
list price: US$44.95 -- used & new: US$44.95
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Asin: 0821414291
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Good critical writing that never goes out of style
Ohio Univ. Press has finally released the long awaited edited, annotated volume of Mencken's literary reviews and essays dating generally from 1910 to 1930, most having never been reprinted before now, and it is a wonderful collection.
In addition to being a renowned newspaper reporter, editorial wirter, and drama critic for both the Baltimore Herald and Baltimore Evening Sun, Mencken worked as a book reviewer for both the Smaart Set and American Mercury magazines. From 1908 to the mid 30's he wrote thousands of reviews and essays and became one of the most trusted, and feared, literary critics of the twentieth century.
Trying to review this collection is a bit like sitting down to a gourmet Thanksgiving dinner. It's sometimes difficult to decide where to begin given the wonderful selection available. Mencken stated his motives in writing reviews was "...principally to clear the ground of moldering rubbish, to chase away old ghosts, to help set the artist free. The work of erecting new structure belongs primarily to the artist as creator, not to me as critic." To that end he reviewed most if not all of the important writers of the early twentieth century and his sometimes tart, provocative, always entertaining opinions are a delight to read. He considered Mark Twain to be the"...largest figure that ever reared itself out of the flat, damp prairie of American literature." Indeed, Twain was believed by Mencken to be "...the noblest literary artist who ever set pen to paper on American soil..." He found Ambrose Bierce to be "...a good deal damaged by the excessive praises of his partisans..." but ultimately a worthy writer that was capable of producing in The Devil's Dictionary "...the most brilliant stuff, first and last, that America has ever produced." Not in a class with Twain but a worthy contributor to American literature. The anecdote about Mencken's first reading, in galley proofs, of Main Street by Sinclair Lewis is a pure delight."That idiot has written a masterpiece" must surely go down as a classic quote in literary history. Space does not permit the in-depth review this book deserves. Suffice it to say that such authors as Willa Cather, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James, F. Scott Fitzgerald and dozens of other legendary literary figures were subjected to the scrutiny of Mencken and some, but by no means all, were considered worthy of his praise. Some for very different reasons than the reader might expect but rest assured all make for good reading.
This is a must book for readers, students, scholars and writers of all persuasions that are interested in great writing by a literary giant in his own right that is gone but surely,with the publication of this book, not forgotten. This is a prime example of quality publications typically offered by university presses and Ohio University Press is to be commended for the effort. ... Read more

12. Prejudices: A Selection (Maryland Paperback Bookshelf)
by H. L. Mencken
Paperback: 280 Pages (1996-06-19)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$24.57
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Asin: 0801853419
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

In the 1920s, when he was at the peak of his form, H. L. Mencken would periodically collect his magazine work and publish his favorite pieces in a series of books entitled Prejudices. This collection represents the best of those books. The essays were selected and introduced by novelist James T. Farrell. Prejudices: A Selection first appeared nearly 40 years ago and is now being published by Johns Hopkins University Press, which is thankfully bringing much of Mencken's work back into print. Included are such gems as Mencken's attack on the South in "The Sahara of the Bozart"; his amazingly prescient appreciation of Ring Lardner; and more than two dozen other essays which show convincingly why Mencken was one of the most popular, most feared, and among fools, the most hated writers of his day.Book Description

In six volumes of Prejudices published between 1919 and 1927, H. L. Mencken collected some of the best essays he ever wrote and established the style that made him a titan of the free press. Thirty years later, James T. Farrell, Mencken's friend and the author of the Studs Lonigan trilogy, read again through the Prejudices and found them still relevant and stimulating. From the six original volumes, he selected thirty-five essays--each a stick of dynamite with a burning fuse.

Here is Mencken at his hyperbolic best--from his thundering blows against politics, through his piercing deflations of pious reputations, to his tireless fusillades against the American plutocracy. He tallies the dubious merits of farmers, professors, economists, congressmen, and preachers. He calculates the displeasures of living in California--and the advantages of living in America: "Here the general average of intelligence, of knowledge, of competence, of integrity, of self-respect, of honor is so low that any man who knows his trade, does not fear ghosts, has read fifty good books, and practices the common decencies stands out as brilliantly as a wart on a bald head."

"It should be clear to the reader that the preparation of this volume was to me a joy, a labor of love, and a privilege. These selections... represent Mencken when he was at the peak of his influence and had, in fact, become a legend. Here is some of his wittiest and most buoyant writing. Something of his wide range of interests and his broad field of reference is to be found in these essays. Many of them are unforgettable. Here in my opinion, is some of the very best of H. L. Mencken."--James T. Farrell, in the Introduction

... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

This is merely an old book scanned and reprinted. Type is compressed and unclear.
Selections are dated, obscure and inferior in quality.
If you love Mencken, buy Chrestomathy, his own collection of his writings.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Of Mencken
These are some of Mencken's best essays collated together by an HLM aficionado and scholar, James Farrell. The muckraker/libertarian/critic/journalist/satirist is in top form as he rips into everyone from Teddy Roosevelt to chiropractors, and every institution from the American Legion to democracy in general and American democracy in particular.

Mencken's rich, inimitable stylistic flourishes complement his acerbic, lacerating wit. He criticizes criticism--and criticism of criticism. He takes on the South in the classic "The Sahara of the Bozart"--not ad hominem, but cultural criticism of a bastardized postbellum region, with fair regard for the genteel culture and society of its past. A cynic through and through, Mencken nevertheless displays his ability to appreciate the bright rays peaking through massive gray clouds--Whitman, Conrad, and Twain, among others.

The book is well edited and gives us a wonderful picture of a scribe at the height of his powers--in style and substance.

5-0 out of 5 stars If it weren't for Mencken, I'd go nuts
Mencken helps to keeps me sane. When I can no longer stomach euphemisms, political correctness or the praise of mediocrity, along comes Harry to slay the idleheaded icons of modern American society. He accomplishes the task as effortlessly today as he did in the 1920s. It shows he was either ahead of his time, or things never really change. While those not familiar with Menckenmight be unacquaintedwith some of thoseharpooned by him, a little research and reading will clear up the unfamiliarity. As for Mencken's style, vocabulary and content, one word describes them: priceless. Prejudices and Mencken's Chrestomathy should be required reading in every school across the nation. This book, like most of his writings, is not for the weak, for those easily offended or those who measure all things with the modern yardstick of self-righteous indignation. These people will be screaming half way into the first page. Keep your generals, kings and the like. If there were one person from the past I could sit with over a schooner of beer it would be the Sage of Baltimore.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Classic!
I have recently finished "Prejudices," by H.L. Mencken. I knew little of the author, save that which I had gleaned by reading one of his other books ("A Discourse on the Gods," I think it was.) But,after coming away from the Satanic wag's essays, I am inclined to accordhim a place in the pantheon right next to Nietzsche, Mark Twain andSocrates. An evil, little man! Acerbic, brilliant, roaringly funny! Historybuffs will appreciate the insight these essays will give on the values andmores of the Early 20th Century and the light his intelligence throws uponthe world around him--and around us today. Because, as it turns out, thegreatest accomplishment of this witty court jester, this slayer of phoniesand defender of common sense is his talent for uncovering atemporal,universal principles which are as true today as they were a hundred yearsago . . . or a thousand! A brilliant work from a glowing mind, the secretthrill in reading it is seeing how little everything has changed and what ashort distance we've really come since the Age of Troglodytes. ... Read more

13. In Defense of Marion: The Love of Marion Bloom & H.L. Mencken
by H. L. Mencken, Marion Bloom
Hardcover: 397 Pages (1996-06)
list price: US$65.00
Isbn: 0820317675
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Editorial Review

In an amazing feat of puzzle-working, Edward A. Martin has reconstructed the love affair between Marion Bloom, a struggling Washington writer, and H. L. Mencken, the respected journalist. The affair transpired before Mencken's marriage to Sara Haardt and, as we learn, contained the tumult and intensity that that latter relationship didn't. Though Mencken burned the letters Bloom sent to him, Bloom kept the ones from Mencken. Martin uses those remaining letters plus Bloom's letters to her sister and various writings of Mencken to piece together the tale, which knocks some of the polish off Mencken's image. ... Read more

14. From Baltimore to Bohemia: The Letters of H. L. Mencken and George Sterling
by H. L. Mencken, George Sterling
 Hardcover: 284 Pages (2001-03)
list price: US$45.00 -- used & new: US$41.00
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Asin: 0838638694
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15. Letters of H. L. Mencken
by H. L. Mencken
 Hardcover: Pages (1981-07)
list price: US$47.50 -- used & new: US$18.46
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Asin: 0930350170
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16. Serpent in Eden: H.L. Mencken and the South
by Fred C. Hobson
Paperback: 264 Pages (1995-06)
list price: US$21.95 -- used & new: US$5.00
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Asin: 0807104558
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17. Ich Kuss Die Hand: The Letters of H.L. Mencken to Gretchen Hood
by H. L. Mencken
 Hardcover: 303 Pages (1987-01)
list price: US$22.50 -- used & new: US$4.74
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Asin: 0817302964
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18. H.L. Mencken (Literature and Life)
by Vincent Fitzpatrick
 Hardcover: 153 Pages (1989-04)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$14.77
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Asin: 0826404197
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars He Told The Truth, Harshly!
Henry Louis Mencken lived from 1880 to 1956.He became a newspaperman and gave harsh witness to the effects on America by the Great Depression sandwiched between two world wars.

In this book by Vincent Fitzpatrick, a curator of the Mencken papers at the Pratt Free Library, the substance of Mencken's writing is given focus rather than the author's biography."For half a century, no matter what was playing, Mencken's public life was characterized by bellicose individualism, unwavering pessimism, and considerable integrity", said Fitzpatrick."He told the truth as he saw it without fear of the consequences".

Mencken's role at the Scopes Trial, which Mencken dubbed the "Monkey Trial", is treated nicely by Fitzpatrick.In 1931, the Arkansas State Legislature passed a motion to pray for Mencken's soul.

In 1948, Mencken was struck down with a brain dysfunction much like Muhammad Ali later was, and Mencken could no longer write or even read until the day he died.

Prior to that, Mencken had written "My private prejudices are innumerable, and often idiotic".He explained "My aim is not to determine facts, but to function freely and pleasantly - as Nietzche used to say, to dance with arms and legs".

This book is appealing because the "Sage of Baltimore" is a stubborn individualist, maybe even a libertarian.He loved freedom though he was courageously irresponsible at times.His prose was erudite - many enjoy reading his works. ... Read more

19. A Choice of Days
by H.L. Mencken
 Hardcover: 337 Pages (1980-08-12)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$9.44
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Asin: 0394507959
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20. Minority Report (Maryland Paperback Bookshelf)
by H. L. Mencken
Paperback: 304 Pages (1997-06-25)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$24.99
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Asin: 0801856582
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

The great skeptic and prose stylist H.L. Mencken had a lifelong habit of keeping notebooks thathe'd plumb for ideas. He eventually collected many brief essays from his notebooks and published them asMinority Report, claiming in the book's introduction that the pieces had been selected at random.That may be true, but as Mencken's writing discipline seemed to require him to always produce elegantprose, it's fair to say that his random notebook entries are superior to the polished essays of many otherwriters. Mencken was simply a national treasure, and Minority Report, as it contains a great manyof his observations on a wide variety of subjects, is a good place to begin to get a taste of his eccentricallyintelligent style.Book Description

"The most expensive thing on this earth is to believe in something that is palpably not true."

"We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart."

"Metaphysics is a refuge for men who have a strong desire to appear learned and profound but have nothing worth hearing to say."

"Out of the past it comes, and as vibrant, penetrating, and provocative as I have ever heard it -- the voice of H. L. Mencken, proclaiming his shrewd truths and magnificent prejudices with a pungent clarity possessed by no other critic of our times." -- Edward Weeks, Atlantic

"This is Mencken, all right, authentic and inimitable. Some of it is Vintage Mencken, with the bouquet and body that delighted connoisseurs for thirty years; some of it is Outrageous Mencken, dispensing soda-pop and, tongue in cheek, gravely assuring the brainless that it is the true, the blushing Hippocrene; but all of it is the One and Only Mencken, flashing, sparkling and as stimulating to swift endeavor as the sting of a wasp." -- New York Herald Tribune

In 1956 Mencken could look back on a long and distinguished career that included years at the top of his profession, the publication of three volumes of memoirs, and a steady stream of journalism that made him loved and hated, sometimes by the same person. For Minority Report, he read through his notebooks, extracting those pieces he thought most true, most pertinent, most precise, or most likely to blow the dust out of a reader's brain.

"He is a delight to read -- a little at a time, which one must do in order to fully enjoy the old master's sledgehammer effect." -- San Francisco Chronicle

... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Revisiting an old friend
This outstanding collection of pithy, sage, irreverent and frequently hilarious snippets by the master wordsmith Henry Louis Mencken were prefaced by a statement of his disappointment that he wouldn't enjoy another lifetime in which he could develop his notes into articles or books. I too share his regret. As one who was captivated by the clarity and accuracy of his writings at a tender age, it gives me great pleasure to reread a replacement copy of Minority Report. If you only read two books by the Supreme American Iconoclast, make this one of them (by the way, the other should be 'A Mencken Chrestomathy'). You'll not be sorry!

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent HLM, Just A Bit Mean Here & There!
This selection of HLM aphorisms appeared in his later years at the age of 68, just before his health seriously deteriorated. Basically a book of about 432 short witticisms, much like A. Bierce's DEVIL'S DICTIONARY, but with a bit too much bile a times. Obviously, he enjoys jabbing at the powerful ("Roosevelt II", among others), the New Deal, Lawyers, Politicians, Professors, just about everyone, or, all the hippocrites, idiots,morons,(standard words in the HLM lexicon)out there. Politically he seems to subscribe to the hard Victorian "Sink or Swim" philosophy, and constantly cracks those who cannot pull their own weight. Democracy? A sham for losers and loafers. Elections? Only those who have supported themselves for 5 years need apply. Mississippians and Tenneseeans? Mainly dim wits and holy rollers of inferior stock. Some of these comments get repetitive, and more than a little tasteless. But,still, at his best, he is incomparable, especially in critiqueing organized (mainly Christian) religion. In his view a total sham, completely irrational and unscientific. In fact, the world would be vastly improved if everyone took a few moments to consider his irreverent, but totally honest, religion comments.Wars? Completely without morals and really a suckers game run by incompetents with no knowledge of the horrors being unleached. So today HLM would be a far right libertarian, but would shoot his poisonous darts to all the war mongerers and phoney flag wavers. So where is today's HLM? There are a few who try, but none who can come close!

5-0 out of 5 stars The Meat of Mencken
This is a wonderful collection of pithy Mencken writings which you may often see quoted.If you have no intention of reading his full essays, read this.This was one of the best bathroom books I have ever had.It is funny, amusing, nihilistic, and condescendingly brutal (or is it brutally condescending?).Mencken writes with the authority of a god, but one with a strong sense of humor and an honest reverence for honesty.This is one of the most original, interesting, and inspirational American writers period.So pick up a copy and see your illusions melt away.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fix for all those addicted to contemplation.
Chock-full of interesting and valuable insights, Minority Report encapsulates much of the Mencken oeuvre. The author never leaves room for doubt about his meaning. Not a few of the notebook entries reveal thatMencken had an inclination towards the visionary, as when he treats ofscientific subjects. Mencken means everything he says; and although hiswriting has a very sharp flavor, his implicit message to the reader is thathe is being as honest as possible within the confines of his own talents ofreasoning and understanding. Mencken offends only insofar as the reader isguilty of taking himself too seriously. As the average entry is relativelybrief, Minority Report accommodates all those who love to read deep but funliterature yet who find themselves always in a hurry with little time todevote to prolonged readings. Enthusiasts of H.L. Mencken will be pleasedto find his hallmark of iconoclasm stamped on every page of MinorityReport. For those new to Mencken, this is a good place to start. Those whohave smarted aplenty from his other writings, either from too much laughteror from having watched their cherished preconceived notions herded to theslaughterhouse, should be pleasantly surprised by the depth, range andpoignancy of H.L. Mencken's notebooks. ... Read more

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