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Letters of the Century : America: 1900-1999

Grunwald, Lisa (editor); Adler, Stephen J. (editor)

Published by Dell Publishing, New York, NY, U.S.A., 1999
ISBN 10: 0385315902 / ISBN 13: 9780385315906
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Title: Letters of the Century : America: 1900-1999

Publisher: Dell Publishing, New York, NY, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition: Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: First Edition.

Description:

FINE/FINE copy protected by Archival Brodart Cover. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 000460

About this title:

Book ratings provided by GoodReads:
4.29 avg rating
(159 ratings)

Synopsis: "Immediate and evocative, letters witness and fasten history, catching events as they happen," write Lisa Grunwald and Stephen J. Adler in their introduction to this remarkable book.  In more than 400 letters from both famous figures and ordinary citizens, Letters of the Century encapsulates the people and places, events and trends that shaped our nation during the last 100 years.

Here is Mark Twain's hilarious letter of complaint to the head of Western Union, an ecstatic letter from a young Charlie Chaplin upon receiving his first movie contract, Einstein's letter to Franklin Roosevelt warning about atomic warfare, Mark Rudd's "generation gap" letter to the president of Columbia University during the student riots of the 60s, and a letter from young Bill Gates imploring hobbyists not to share software so that innovators can make some money...

In these pages, our century's most celebrated figures become everyday people and everyday people become part of history. Here is a veteran's wrenching letter left at the Vietnam Wall, a poignant correspondence between two women trying to become mothers, a heart-breaking letter from an AIDS sufferer telling his parents how he wants to be buried, an indignant e-mail from a PC user to his on-line server...    

"Letters," write Grunwald and Adler, "give history a voice."  Arranged chronologically by decade, illustrated with over 100 photographs, Letters of the Century creates an extraordinary chronicle of our history, through the voices of the men and women who have lived its greatest moments.

Review: Letters of the Century opens by recalling a pregnant mother's letter to Jonas Salk the day after he discovered a vaccine for polio. The book's editors, veteran journalists Lisa Grunwald and Stephen J. Adler, try to describe that letter's emotional impact: "The difference between knowing that Americans were grateful to Jonas Salk and reading this letter to him is like the difference between knowing the words of a song and hearing it sung. Letters give history a voice."

Organizing them by decade, with helpful annotations for context, this couple has assembled 423 such exceptional letters, culled from a thousand times that many; each gives witness to a sliver of the century, from the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the patenting of Coca-Cola's glass bottle, from the tension of the Bay of Pigs to the flush of Internet romance. Letters to lovers, threats from gangsters, pleas to judges for mercy, tracts from terrorists, junk mail from evangelists, advice from Ann Landers, even young JFK's message carved on a coconut after PT-109 was sunk--all combine to provide one of the most authentic, resonant, and real histories imaginable, a sweeping and often intensely personal chronicle of the American 20th century, as told by the famous, the infamous, and the obscure. --Paul Hughes

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