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The 40s: The Story of a Decade

by The New Yorker Magazine, Henry Finder (Editor), Giles Harvey (Editor)

Other authors: Joan Acocella (Contributor), Conrad Aiken (Contributor), Hilton Als (Contributor), W.H. Auden (Contributor), S.N. Behrman (Contributor)67 more, Elizabeth Bishop (Contributor), Louise Bogan (Contributor), Richard O. Boyer (Contributor), John Cheever (Contributor), Dan Chiasson (Contributor), Robert M. Coates (Contributor), Malcolm Cowley (Contributor), David Denby (Contributor), Clifton Fadiman (Contributor), Janet Flanner (Contributor), Wolcott Gibbs (Contributor), Philip Hamburger (Contributor), Geoffrey T. Hellman (Contributor), John Hersey (Contributor), Langston Hughes (Contributor), Shirley Jackson (Contributor), Randall Jarrell (Contributor), E.J. Kahn Jr. (Contributor), Weldon Kees (Contributor), David Lardner (Contributor), John Lardner (Contributor), A. J. Leibling (Contributor), Jill Lepore (Contributor), Lois Long (Contributor), Archibald MacLeish (Contributor), Louis MacNeice (Contributor), William Maxwell (Contributor), John McCarten (Contributor), Carson McCullers (Contributor), St. Clair McKelway (Contributor), Louis Menand (Contributor), Joseph Mitchell (Contributor), John Mosher (Contributor), Lewis Mumford (Contributor), Vladimir Nabokov (Contributor), Ogden Nash (Contributor), Howard Nemerov (Contributor), Frank O'Connor (Contributor), John O'Hara (Contributor), Susan Orlean (Contributor), George Orwell (Contributor), George Packer (Contributor), Mollie Panter-Downes (Contributor), V.S. Pritchett (Contributor), David Remnick (Introduction), Theodore Roethke (Contributor), Alex Ross (Contributor), Harold Ross (Contributor), Lillian Ross (Contributor), Richard Rovere (Contributor), Winthrop Sargeant (Contributor), Peter Schjeldahl (Contributor), Irwin Shaw (Contributor), Robert A. Simon (Contributor), Zadie Smith (Contributor), Stephen Spender (Contributor), Elizabeth Taylor (Contributor), Judith Thurman (Contributor), Lionel Trilling (Contributor), Niccolò Tucci (Contributor), Mark Van Doren (Contributor), Jessamyn West (Contributor), Rebecca West (Contributor), E.B. White (Contributor), Richard Wilbur (Contributor), William Carlos Williams (Contributor), Edmund Wilson (Contributor)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
238596,960 (4.07)2
The 1940s are the watershed decade of the twentieth century, a time of trauma and upheaval but also of innovation and profound and lasting cultural change. This is the era of Fat Man and Little Boy, of FDR and Stalin, but also of Casablanca and Citizen Kane, zoot suits and Christian Dior, Duke Ellington and Edith Piaf. The 1940s were when The New Yorker came of age. A magazine that was best known for its humor and wry social observation would extend itself, offering the first in depth reporting from Hiroshima and introducing American readers to the fiction of Vladimir Nabokov and the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop. In this enthralling book, masterly contributions from the pantheon of great writers who graced The New Yorker's pages throughout the decade are placed in history by the magazine's current writers. Included in this volume are seminal profiles of the decade's most fascinating figures, as well as vital, seldom reprinted criticism. Perhaps no contribution the magazine made to 1940s American culture was more lasting than its fiction and poetry. Included here is an extraordinary selection of short stories by such writers as Shirley Jackson (whose masterpiece "The Lottery" stirred outrage when it appeared in the magazine in 1948) and John Cheever (of whose now classic story "The Enormous Radio" New Yorker editor Harold Ross said: "It will turn out to be a memorable one, or I am a fish.") Also represented are the great poets of the decade, from Louise Bogan and William Carlos Williams to Theodore Roethke and Langston Hughes.… (more)
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Showing 4 of 4
I LOVED this. It's amazing how familiar the New Yorker "voice" is after 70 years.

Highlights:
-John Hersey's [b:Hiroshima|27323|Hiroshima|John Hersey|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327719015s/27323.jpg|1014091]. I loved [b:A Bell for Adano|415412|A Bell for Adano|John Hersey|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1403185397s/415412.jpg|1798417], and this just cements him for me.
-John Hersey's profile of JFK. Ditto.
-George Orwell's review (of something I can't even remember now). Everything he was saying is still so relevant. I should read more of him.
-All of the WWII coverage, especially of the D-Day landings.

I'm bad and I skipped the poetry section, because poetry. ( )
  beautifulshell | Aug 27, 2020 |
A fantastic compilation of essays, stories and articles from the New Yorker pages of the 1940's. The writings run the gamut from observations of war time Paris, to essays on films, music and art, and short stories written by some of the greatest authors of the day.
It's a book that encourages dipping in and out, and skipping around, rather than reading without deviation from beginning to end.
It's a marvelous book that immerses the reader into the 1940's. Loved it! ( )
  Iambookish | Dec 14, 2016 |
Finally, I read The 40s: The Story of a Decade which has made me want to subscribe to The New Yorker so it definitely did its job. It's a collection of pieces from that illustrious publication during the 1940s when it underwent the change from witty, humorist magazine to political, correspondence magazine. From profiles to poetry to politics, The New Yorker broke down barriers and contributed some truly revolutionary writings that left an indelible mark on the history of journalism. I was especially moved by the essay on Hiroshima which focused on a handful of survivors of the atomic bomb. The entire collection was fascinating for its time capsule like quality but it was also a fine sampling of excellent writing. I'd also like to point out that I heard about this book on the New York Public Library's homepage on a blog post entitled "The Blacklist: What is Red Reading?". Turns out James Spader is currently reading this book and it sounded so intriguing that I decided to give it a shot. I'm so glad that I did! ( )
  AliceaP | Oct 23, 2015 |
As an avid reader of the New Yorker magazine, I looked forward to reading this collection of pieces from the 1940’s and I was not disappointed. It begins with a fascinating introduction by David Remnick which describes the beginnings of the magazine and how its intent evolved during the years of World War II. The pieces begin with the German invasion of Paris and continue throughout the war and beyond. There is one particularly spectacular piece about John F. Kennedy’s war experience. It is a large book and I have approximately one third left to read, but I would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in well written prose. I am currently reading this as an egalley but would recommend a hard copy as it would be a nice book to flip through. I received this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  LissaJ | May 2, 2014 |
Showing 4 of 4
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
The New Yorker Magazineprimary authorall editionscalculated
Finder, HenryEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Harvey, GilesEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Acocella, JoanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aiken, ConradContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Als, HiltonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Auden, W.H.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Behrman, S.N.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bishop, ElizabethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bogan, LouiseContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boyer, Richard O.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cheever, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chiasson, DanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Coates, Robert M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cowley, MalcolmContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Denby, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fadiman, CliftonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Flanner, JanetContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gibbs, WolcottContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hamburger, PhilipContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hellman, Geoffrey T.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hersey, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hughes, LangstonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jackson, ShirleyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jarrell, RandallContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kahn Jr., E.J.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kees, WeldonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lardner, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lardner, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Leibling, A. J.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lepore, JillContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Long, LoisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
MacLeish, ArchibaldContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
MacNeice, LouisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Maxwell, WilliamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McCarten, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McCullers, CarsonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McKelway, St. ClairContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Menand, LouisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mitchell, JosephContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mosher, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mumford, LewisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nabokov, VladimirContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nash, OgdenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nemerov, HowardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
O'Connor, FrankContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
O'Hara, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Orlean, SusanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Orwell, GeorgeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Packer, GeorgeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Panter-Downes, MollieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pritchett, V.S.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Remnick, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Roethke, TheodoreContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ross, AlexContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ross, HaroldContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ross, LillianContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rovere, RichardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sargeant, WinthropContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Schjeldahl, PeterContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shaw, IrwinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Simon, Robert A.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, ZadieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Spender, StephenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Taylor, ElizabethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Thurman, JudithContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Trilling, LionelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tucci, NiccolòContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Van Doren, MarkContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
West, JessamynContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
West, RebeccaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
White, E.B.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wilbur, RichardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, William CarlosContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wilson, EdmundContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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The 1940s are the watershed decade of the twentieth century, a time of trauma and upheaval but also of innovation and profound and lasting cultural change. This is the era of Fat Man and Little Boy, of FDR and Stalin, but also of Casablanca and Citizen Kane, zoot suits and Christian Dior, Duke Ellington and Edith Piaf. The 1940s were when The New Yorker came of age. A magazine that was best known for its humor and wry social observation would extend itself, offering the first in depth reporting from Hiroshima and introducing American readers to the fiction of Vladimir Nabokov and the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop. In this enthralling book, masterly contributions from the pantheon of great writers who graced The New Yorker's pages throughout the decade are placed in history by the magazine's current writers. Included in this volume are seminal profiles of the decade's most fascinating figures, as well as vital, seldom reprinted criticism. Perhaps no contribution the magazine made to 1940s American culture was more lasting than its fiction and poetry. Included here is an extraordinary selection of short stories by such writers as Shirley Jackson (whose masterpiece "The Lottery" stirred outrage when it appeared in the magazine in 1948) and John Cheever (of whose now classic story "The Enormous Radio" New Yorker editor Harold Ross said: "It will turn out to be a memorable one, or I am a fish.") Also represented are the great poets of the decade, from Louise Bogan and William Carlos Williams to Theodore Roethke and Langston Hughes.

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Book description
Anthology contains:
  • Introduction / David Remnick
  • Part 1: The War
    • A Note by George Packer
    • Notes and Comment: September 2, 1939 / E.B. White
    • Paris Postscript (on the Fall of France) / A.J. Liebling
    • Letters from London (on the Blitz) / Mollie Panter-Downes
    • Survival (on Lieutenant John F. Kennedy) / John Hersey
    • Cross-Channel Trip (on D-Day) / A.J. Liebling
    • The Suspended Drawing Room (on post-Blitz London) / S.N. Behrman
    • D Day, Iwo Jima / John Lardner
    • Letter from Rome (on V-E Day) / Philip Hamburger
    • Hiroshima / John Hersey
  • Part 2: American Scenes
    • A Note by Jill Lepore
    • Notes and Comment: July 3, 1943 / E.B. White
    • The Old House at Home (on McSorley’s Old Ale House) / Joseph Mitchell
    • Opera in Greenville (on a lynching trial) / Rebecca West
    • Letter from a Campaign Train (on the 1948 presidential campaign) / Richard Rovere
    • Symbol of All We Possess (on the Miss America Pageant) / Lillian Ross
    Part 3: Postwar
    • A Note by Louis Menand
    • Notes and Comment: November 1, 1947 / E.B. White
    • Greek Diary: Communists, Socialists, and Royalists / Edmund Wilson
    • The Birch Leaves Falling (on the Nuremberg Trials) / Rebecca West
    • The Beautiful Spoils: Monuments Men (on Nazi art theft) / Janet Flanner
    • Come In, Lassie! (on the Red Scare in Hollywood) / Lillian Ross
    • Letter from Washington (on the North Atlantic Pact) / Richard Rovere
    • Die Luftbrücke (on the Berlin Airlift) / E.J. Kahn, Jr.
    Part 4: Character Studies
    • A Note by Susan Orlean
    • Notes and Comment: April 21, 1945 / E.B. White
    • Pollen Man (on Walt Disney) / St. Clair McKelway and Harold Ross
    • Rugged Times (on Norman Mailer) / Lillian Ross
    • Lugubrious Mama (on Edith Piaf) / A/.J. Leibling
    • Gossip Writer (on Walter Winchell) / St. Clair Mckelway
    • Goethe in Hollywood (on Thomas Mann) / Janet Flanner
    • La France et le Vieux (on Marshall Pétain) / Janet Flanner
    • The Hot Bach (on Duke Ellington) / Richard O. Boyer
    • From Within to Without (on Le Corbusier) / Geoffrey T. Hellman
    • The Great Foreigner (on Albert Einstein) / Niccolò Tucci
    • The Years Alone (on Eleanor Roosevelt) / E.J. Kahn, Jr.
    • El Único Matador (on Sidney Franklin) / Lillian Ross
    Part 5: The Critics
    • Notes and Comments: December 12, 1948 / E.B. White
    • Books: A Note by Joan Acocella
    • Ernest Hemingway Crosses the Bridge (on For Whom the Bell Tolls) / Clifton Fadiman
    • Why Do People Read Detective Stories? / Edmund Wilson
    • Jean-Paul Sartre: The Novelist and the Existentialist (on The Age of Reason) / Edmund Wilson
    • Review of Lord Wearyʹs Castle (on Robert Lowell) / Louise Bogan
    • The Sanctified Sinner (on The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene) / George Orwell
    • Port and Nuts with the Eliots (on "Notes Towards the Definition of Culture" by T.S. Eliot) / W.H. Auden
    • Orwell on the Future (on Nineteen Eighty-Four) / Lionel Trilling
    • The Current Cinema: A Note by David Denby
    • The Great Hildy (on His Girl Friday) / John Mosher
    • Zanuckʹs Joads (on The Grapes of Wrath) / John Mosher
    • Charlieʹs Hitler (on The Great Dictator) / John Mosher
    • Childe Orson (on Citizen Kane) / John Mosher
    • Pre-Eisenhower (on Casablanca) / David Lardner
    • Blood and Premiums (on Double Indemnity) / David Lardner
    • Very Rare Vintage (on The Lost Weekend) / John McCarten
    • None Better (on The Bicycle Thief) / John McCarten
    • The Theater: a Note by Hilton Als
    • The Boys in the Back Room (on The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O’Neill) / Wolcott Gibbs
    • Well Worth Waiting For (on Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller) / Wolcott Gibbs
    • What a Wonderful War (on Rodgers & Hammersteinʹs South Pacific) / Wolcott Gibbs
    • Art & Architecture: A Note by Peter Schjeldahl
    • Assorted Moderns / Robert M. Coates
    • Georges Braque, and the American Abstract Artists / Robert M. Coates
    • Rockefeller Center Revisited / Lewis Mumford
    • The Architecture of Power / Lewis Mumford
    • Musical Events: A Note by Alex Ross
    • Copland and Shostakovich / Robert A. Simon
    • Current and Recurrent (on Bernstein, Toscanini, and Armstrong) / Robert A. Simon
    • In the Hills (on Tanglewood) / Philip Hamburger
    • May Day at Loxford (on Benjamin Britten) / Philip Hamburger
    • The Violin and Szigeti / Winthrop Sargeant
    • Feminine Fashions: A Note by Judith Thurman
    • On the Retail Customer / Lois Long
    • On Ready-to-Wear Clothes / Lois Long
    • On American Milliners / Lois Long
    • On French Fashion / Lois Long
    • On College Clothes / Lois Long
    Part 6: Poetry
    • A Note by Dan Chiasson
    • Home Song / E.B. White
    • The Unknown Citizen / W.H. Auden
    • The Ritualists / William Carlos Williams
    • Night Journey / Theodore Roethke
    • Barroom Matins / Louis MacNeice
    • The End of the World / Malcolm Cowley
    • The Blind Sheep / Randall Jarrell
    • The Lovers / Conrad Aiken
    • Sunday-Morning Prophecy / Langston Hughes
    • A Poet Speaks from the Visitorʹs Gallery / Archibald MacLeish
    • A Hundred Minnows / Mark Van Doren
    • The Triumph of Education / Howard Nemerov
    • At the Fishhouses / Elizabeth Bishop
    • Aspects of Robinson / Weldon Kees
    • Awaking / Stephen Spender
    • At Yearsend / Richard Wilbur
    • What I Know About Life / Ogden Nash
    • The Bight / Elizabeth Bishop
    • Song for the Last Act / Louise Bogan
    Part 7: Fiction
    • A Note by Zadie Smith
    • The Second Tree from the Corner / E.B. White
    • The Jockey / Carson McCullers
    • Graven Image / John O'Hara
    • The Patterns of Love / William Maxwell
    • Act of Faith / Irwin Shaw
    • The Enormous Radio / John Cheever
    • My Da / Frank O’Connor
    • The Mysteries of Life in an Orderly Manner / Jessamyn West
    • Symbols and Signs / Vladimir Nabokov
    • The Lottery / Shirley Jackson
    • The Beginning of a Story / Elizabeth Taylor
    • The Ladder / V.S. Pritchett
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