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The Growing Seasons: An American Boyhood…
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The Growing Seasons: An American Boyhood Before the War (2003)

by Samuel Hynes

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Samuel Hynes is Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature Emeritus at Princeton University and the author of several major works of literary criticism, including The Auden Generation, The Edwardian Turn of Mind, and A War Imagined. Hynes's wartime experiences as a Marine corps pilot were the basis for his highly praised memoir Flights of Passage. The Soldier's Tale, his book about soldiers' narratives of the two world wars and Vietnam, won a Robert F. Kennedy Award.

In this memoir, Hynes examines his boyhood up until the point he enters the navy, during World War II. Born in 1924, Hynes's mother died when he was five and his brother, Chuck, seven, and her absence is felt throughout the memoir. Hynes's father, a proud, taciturn mid-western Presbyterian, scrabbles for work during the Depression, roaming the country, living in boardinghouses with his two sons. Hynes says:

Later, when I traced our travels in those hard years on a map, I saw the pattern of my father's desperation: west and then all the way back east, south and the the whole way north, he had drawn his cross on the country. Seven moves in three years. No stop longer than a year. No steady, last job. Living in boardinghouses. Taking his family's charity. And always the two small boys...

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  Laurenbdavis | Aug 2, 2009 |
A classic of midwestern boyhood. I was hooked from line one of this book. Hynes' simple and direct style of writing quickly whisks you back 70-plus years and tells you -shows you - how it was. And it wasn't easy for Sam Hynes either, orphaned at an early age and moving from place to place, being farmed out and coping with a step-mother. But in spite of all this, you also get a sense of the fun of being a boy in the midwest during the depression. Kids don't always know when they're poor; they're too busy learning and experiencing things and trying to get the most out of every day. The sequel to The Growing Seasons is equally good: Flights of Passage. I wish Sam would continue his personal story and tell us what happened after he came home from the war. I do know from talking with him that he was back in the Marines during Korea. There's gotta be another great story in there somewhere. If you're from the midwest and love good storytelling, read this book. Hell, you don't have to be midwestern. It's just darn good writing. ( )
  TimBazzett | Apr 30, 2009 |
3744. The Growing Seasons: An American Boyhood Before the War, by Samuel Hynes (read 13 May 2003) This is a prequel to Flights of Passage, read 23 May 2001, which is an account of Hynes' war. It tells of his growing up in Minnesota, and his account is more acidic than Jimmy Carter's or Tom Brokaw's of their growing up years, but Hynes writes so well that he turns a very ordinary boyhood into a poignant account. ( )
  Schmerguls | Oct 7, 2007 |
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This book is dedicated to Jim Blake, Pat Champion Edwards, Otto Leonardson, Craig McCarthy, and Bob Michaud.
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The summer my father got married I lived on a farm.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670031933, Hardcover)

For Americans who grew up in the 1930s, the phrase "before the war" calls up a distant time as remote from the way we live now as some foreign country. Those years of the Great Depression were lean ones for most Americans; jobs were scarce and nobody had any money. But all was not struggle and hardship; it was also a time of innocence, kindness, and generosity. It is this special time that Samuel Hynes, a distinguished scholar and wartime marine pilot, captures in this lyrical memoir of his midwestern boyhood.

Born in 1924, Sam Hynes grew up in cities and towns and on farms around the country, following his father to wherever there was work, and eventually to Minneapolis. Though Hynes's family lived through hard times, he remembers his early years not as a time of pinched deprivation but as a golden stretch of opportunities and discoveries. Looking back with a clear-eyed, unsentimental gaze, Hynes describes the rough-and-tumble games in back alleys and a long hot summer on a farm, the temptations of sex, stealing, and drinking, and the wonder of falling in love for the first time. Here, too, are deeply etched portraits of Hynes's widowed father and of the feisty widow he brought home to be stepmother to his sons. Hynes's new memoir recaptures what came before the war he fought in: his dreams, his adventures, his sins and triumphs. Moving, written with great clarity and humor, The Growing Seasons is the story of a truly American boyhood.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:08 -0400)

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"For Americans who grew up in the 1930s, the phrase "before the war" calls up a distant time as remote from the way we live now as some foreign country. Those years of the Great Depression were lean ones for most Americans; jobs were scarce and nobody had any money. But all was not struggle and hardship; it was also a time of innocence, kindness, and generosity. It is this special time that Samuel Hynes, a distinguished scholar and wartime Marine pilot, captures in this lyrical, lucid memoir of his midwestern boyhood." "Born in 1924, Hynes grew up in cities and towns and on farms around the country, following his father to wherever there was work, and eventually to Minneapolis. Though Hynes's family lived through hard times, he remembers his early years as a golden stretch of opportunities and discoveries. Looking back with a clear-eyed, unsentimental gaze, he describes the rough and tumble games in back alleys, a long hot summer on a farm, the temptations of sex, stealing, and drinking, and the wonder of falling in love for the first time. Here too are deeply etched portraits of his widowed father and the feisty widow he brought home to be stepmother to his sons. Hynes's new memoir recaptures what came before the war he fought in: his dreams, his adventures, his sins and triumphs."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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