recommended references

at the beginning......

general reading on AMERICA and




Literature (critical)

Tony Tanner, City of Words, A Study of American Fiction in the mid Twentieth Century, Cape London 1971 (Nabokov and Borges, Ralph Ellison, Saul Bellows, Joseph Heller, James Purdy, William Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, Vonnegut, John Hawkes, John Barth, , Percy, Sontag, Gass, Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud, Norman Mailer, Ken Kesey, etc with a section on Entropy called "Everything Running Down"*)


David M. Cook and C.G.Swauger, The Small Town in American Literature, A Casebook Anthology, Dodd Mead, New York 1969; excerpts from Thornton Wilder, Sherwood Anderson and Sinclair Lewis*


David D.Anderson, Sunshine and Smoke,American Writers and the American Environment, Lippincott, Phil 1971; see Emerson Nature, Thoreau Walking, Whitman, Twain, Sandburg - a clever reader with all the greats*.


Christopher Bigsbee, The Radical Imagination and the Liberal Tradition, interviews with Barth, Hawkes etc.


Donald Allen, The New American Poetry, Grove/Evergreen NY 1960 with section of useful statements on poetics. Good compilation of the period.


Literature (first hand)

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar*


Ralph Ellison, The Invisible Man.


John Updike, Rabbit


John Cheever, Short Stories. I also have his Wapshot Chronicles, Journals, and Letters. Recommended because of his acute eye and spare style of writing. I have a 50 min TV docum on him.


Joseph Heller, Catch 22


John Berryman, Collected Poems, 1937 - 1971


Robert Lowell, Selected Poems


Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions


Diane Wood Middlebrook, Anne Sexton, a Biography Virago London 1991, with controversial reports from her psychiatrist.


Interviews with Robert Frost, excellent account of America's favourite poet.



Isabel Leighton, The Aspirin Age, Simon & Schuster, NY 1949 22 essays on inter war America, see The Radio Priest..., The Night the Martians Came.


John Major, The Oppenheimer Hearing, Stein and Day New York 1981, a study of the discrediting of US top scientist because of his opposition to the Bomb.


Eric Bentley (ed) Thirty Years of Treason, 1938 -1968 HUAC hearings, Thames & Hudson London 1971

C. Films

Peter Biskind, Seeing is Believing, Pluto, London 1983 (Cold War films).*


E.Ann Kaplan, Women in Film Noir, BFI London 1980


Film script and critical responses to Invasion of the Body Snatchers.


Clayton Koppes and Gregory Black, Hollywood goes to War, Univ of Calif Press Berkeley 1990


Marcia Landy, Imitations of Life, a reader on film and TV melodrama, Wayne State Univ. Press Detroit, 1991 - see articles by Elsaesser and others.


J.O'Connor, American History/American Film, Interpreting the Hollywood Image, Ungar New York 1980 ( see best Years of our Lives, Invasion, Strangelove, Bonnie and Clyde.


D. Others

Lynd and Lynd, Middletown, Harvest NY 19 1956 (original 1929) classic study of an American Town.


H.J.Gans, The Levittowners, Ways of Life and Politics in a New Suburban Community, Allen Lane Penguin Press London 1967 *


Any book of oral history of the American people by Studs Terkel (e.g. The Good War 1984)


Jules Henry, Culture Against Man, 1963


H.M.Christman, A View of the Nation, an anthology 1955 - 1959, Grove/Evergreen New York 1959, readable essays from The Nation magazine, see particularly The Economics of Life section.


J.K.Galbraith, The Age of Affluence *


Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, Penguin, London 1987, influential study of the American Universities's surrender of independence to minority group pressures and political correctness. Right wing and stimulating. Mainly after 1960. See particularly "Culture".


Andrew Hacker, US, a statistical portrait of the American people, Viking NY 1983 *


Hennig Cohen, The American Experience, Approaches to the Study of the United States, see Towards Method, a study of how you can begin to define and analyse a whole culture.


Carl Bode (ed) P.T.Barnum Struggles and Triumphs, Penguin 1981, autobiography of the Pioneer of Puff.


Otto Friedrich, Decline and Fall, Michael Joseph London 1972 (of the Saturday Evening Post).


Christopher Ricks and William Vance, The Faber Book of America, Faber & Faber London 1992, see particularly "Money and Things".