When the Century Was Young

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( 26 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780060975791: When the Century Was Young

The author of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee describes his life from his first job as a delivery boy and his adolescent career in mail-order fraud, to his stint in journalism and his participation in World War II. Reprint.

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From AudioFile:

Something between the sound of a music box and an old schoolhouse piano begins the tape and when it stops, Dee Brown's slow drawl emerges. He reveals a quintessential small-town boy reaching for the big time, first in the arena of what we now call "scam" and, later, in the less disreputable field of journalism. The backcountry Ozark setting adds almost mythic dimensions to the stories. Brown isn't a polished reader. He's a well-honed writer who projects unease with the words as if, at times, he cannot believe he wrote them. How good to be young and ready to rear, but more wonderful is the fullness of age and ripeness of wit that relates youthful disasters with compassion and a rueful tone. Brown is authentic and sincere. More polish might be out of place. S.B.S. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine

From Kirkus Reviews:

Less a memoir than a handful of experiences shaped into short vignettes. Western novelist and historian Brown (Conspiracy of Knaves, 1987; Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, 1971, etc.) turns to his own colorful past for material in this engaging account. From his small-town Louisiana and Arkansas origins to his lengthy career as an agricultural librarian at the University of Illinois, Brown has seen most of the 20th century, his memories reflecting to a considerable degree the vast changes wrought in America during this time. Working at the age of 12 as an occasional letter-carrier for the Post Office, Brown witnessed the oil boom in southern Arkansas before moving into the heart of the Ozarks for his first newspaper job. A degree in library science from George Washington University offered few employment prospects during the Depression, so, with the onset of WW II, the author found himself a soldier, albeit one in privileged circumstances as a participant in the Army's Specialized Training Program. Forgotten, along with his unit, for a year while he studied at the University of Pennsylvania, Brown eventually served as a librarian near Washington, until the military's combination of cold war hysteria and hypocrisy prompted him to return to civilian life. At the University of Illinois, Brown befriended a personable Pakistani who wanted to use an American education to rise above his caste back home, and, on another occasion, the author found himself in a comic situation at the Missouri Botanic Gardens; throughout his narrative, self-effacement triumphs (reference to his bestsellers and other books is limited to a four-page epilogue). Fragments of a life that are told easily and with charm; as a whole, however, the narrative is much less than the sum of its parts. (Twenty-three b&w photographs) -- Copyright 1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Brown, Dee
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