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THE 10 GREATEST CULTURAL FIGURES OF THE 20th CENTURY

First, let me state right off the bat that by "Greatest" I mean both that they were influential and that it was a positive influence.  There are plenty of people who were more influential than some folks on the list--FDR, Hitler, Stalin & Lenin, Dr. Spock, The Beatles, James Joyce--but their influence on the culture was essentially malignant.  This list consists, exclusively, of people whose lives ultimately were of benefit to mankind.

Moreover, I have a very specific view of what benefits mankind.  I take a pretty Manichean view (see note at end of page), that all of human existence is one long competition between two competing urges or ideas; Freedom vs. Security.  The forces of Freedom--best represented in the writings of the Book of Genesis, Martin Luther, John Locke, Adam Smith, and the Founding Fathers--seemed to have won this struggle by the end of the 18th Century with the establishment of Constitutional Democracy in both England and America.  But, almost immediately, the forces of Security began their counterattack with the French Revolution.  This reaction continued with the writings of Marx and Engels and their many disciples and resulted in the establishment of the enormous Social Welfare States this century--Communist Russia and China, Nazi Germany and New Deal America.  It may seem unfair to lump these different systems together, but they are all based on the same premise, that it is desirable for the citizenry to give up certain fundamental freedoms to the State in exchange for guarantees of equality and security.

While I understand the natural human desire for Security and believe that a fairly compelling case can be made for it (of course. it's particularly appealing to those who do not believe that they can compete fairly with their fellow citizens), I am instead a believer in Freedom.  Therefore, the people on this list are mostly the apostles of Freedom; those who have fought the righteous battle against the various belief systems and political structures which dominated most of this century (at least from 1917 [Russian Revolution] to 1980 [by then Reagan, Thatcher and Pope John Paul were all in office]).

I welcome responses and alternate lists and will consider any nominations that folks feel are more deserving than those named here.


#1)        Barry Goldwater (1909-98) 

It is generally recognized that he was a central figure in the resurgence of Conservatism.  But he will not really get his due until the next century when his essentially libertarian philosophy becomes the governing norm in American politics.  Either the Republican Party will accept that the same ideas that lead them to insist on political and economic liberty must also apply to social issues like homosexuality, abortion and the like, or else a third party will arise, espousing these ideals.  But AU H20 was there first.  He also gets bonus points, as do people like Robert Taft and Whittaker Chambers, because he took his stance at a time when the prevailing tide of history seemed to be running in the opposite direction.

See also, Orrin's review of:
    -The Conscience of a Conservative  (1960)(Barry Goldwater  1909-1998)  (Grade: A+)
    -Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus (2001) (Rick Perlstein  1969-) (read Orrin's review, Grade : A)

WEBSITES:
    -SPEECH: Goldwater's 1964 Acceptance Speech
    -AUDIO: of same speech (History Channel)
    -Presidential Election of 1964
    -SPEECH: by RONALD REAGAN:  A TIME FOR CHOOSING (October 27, 1964)
    -REVIEW: I.F. Stone: The Knack, NY Review of Books
        The Making of the President:1964 by Theodore H. White
    -Goldwater Institute
    -RECIPE: Sen. Barry Goldwater's Expert Chili
    -ARCHIVE: AZ Central
    -DISCUSSION: Goldwater's Legacy with Mark Shields, Paul Gigot, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Michael Beschloss, and Haynes Johnson (The Newshour, PBS)
    -Background Report (The Newshour, PBS)
    -Photomosaic Tribute to Barry Goldwater (U of AZ)
    -The Arizona Historical Foundation (cofounded by BMG)
    -CHAT: The Barry Goldwater BusinessPhilosophy.com LighthouseTM (devoted to all topics related to Barry Goldwater & Conscience of a Conservative)
    -OBIT: Goldwater did conservatives more harm than good ( Don Feder)
    -OBIT: DEATH OF A PATRIARCH  (PATRICK J. BUCHANAN)
    -OBIT: BARRY GOLDWATER, BOBBY KENNEDY, R.I.P. (William F. Buckley)
    -OBIT: Bury the "Extremism" Smear at Barry Goldwater's Funeral (Glenn Woiceshyn, Capitalism Magazine)
    -OBIT: Mr. Right: Barry Goldwater created, yet stood apart from, modern conservatism (MICHAEL J. GERSON, US News & World)
    -OBIT: REMEMBERING BARRY GOLDWATER (Howard Gleckman, Business Week)
    -TRIBUTE: Goldwater Remembered (Washington Post)
    -ARCHIVE: BARRY MORRIS GOLDWATER (National Aviation Hall of Fame)
    -ESSAY : PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES: Barry Goldwater and  John Kennedy The Debates that Never Were ... But Might Have Changed History (Marty Jezer, Tom Paine)
    -REVIEW: I.F. Stone: The Collected Works of Barry Goldwater, NY Review of Books
        The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry M. Goldwater
        Why Not Victory? by Barry M. Goldwater
        Blue Cross and Private Health Insurance Coverage of Older Americans [Medicare] A Report by
        the Subcommittee on Health of the Elderly to the Special Committee on Aging, U.S. Senate,
        Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, the War on Poverty Bill Report from the Senate Committee
        on Labor and Public Welfare
    -REVIEW: of GOLDWATER By Barry M. Goldwater With Jack Casserly WITH THE BARK OFF (Helen Thomas, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: Michael Lind: The Myth of Barry Goldwater, NY Review of Books
        Barry Goldwater by Robert Alan Goldberg
        Goldwater: The Man Who Made A Revolution by Lee Edwards
        Turning Right in the Sixties: The Conservative Capture of the GOP by Mary C. Brennan
    -REVIEW: of TURNING RIGHT IN THE SIXTIES: The Conservative Capture of the GOP by Mary C. Brennan The Conservative 1960s:  From the perspective of the 1990s, it's the big political story of the era (Matthew Dallek, The Atlantic)
    -REVIEW: of Lee Edwards, Goldwater: The Man Who Made a Revolution  ...and the Goldwater Revolution (Brian Janiskee, On Principle)
    -REVIEW: of GOLDWATER: The Man Who Made a Revolution  By Lee Edwards & BARRY GOLDWATER  By Robert Alan Goldberg The Man Who Knew Too Little (John B. Judis, Washington Post)
    -EXCERPT: Chapter One of GOLDWATER: The Man Who Made a Revolution  By Lee Edwards
    -EXCERPT: Chapter One: Legacy BARRY GOLDWATER  By Robert Alan Goldberg
    -LETTER: Richard Hofstadter: A Long View: Goldwater in History
    -ESSAY : Pundits Who Predict the Future Are Always Wrong : A glance back to 1964 shows that predictions are always wrong and always political--and that the left's possibilities may be greater than
 they seem. (Rick Perlstein, The Nation)
    -REVIEW : of Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, by Rick Perlstein : Goldwater the Refusenik: A Different Kind of Republican (Christopher Caldwell, NY Observer)
   -REVIEW : of  BEFORE THE STORM : Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking Of the American Consensus By Rick Perlstein (Stanley I. Kutler, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW : of Before the Storm : Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus By Rick Perlstein (Steve Martinovich, Enter Stage Right)
    -REVIEW : Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus by Rick Perlstein (Alvin S. Felzenberg, Weekly Standard)
    -REVIEW : of BEFORE THE STORM: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus By Rick Perlstein ( Richard S. Dunham, Business Week)
    -REVIEW : of BEFORE THE STORM: BARRY GOLDWATER AND THE UNMAKING OF THE AMERICAN CONSENSUS. By Rick Perlstein and  KEITH JOSEPH. By Andrew Denham and Mark Garnett (The Economist)
    -REVIEW : of  BEFORE THE STORM Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus; By Rick Perlstein (BILL BOYARSKY, LA Times)



#2)        Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla)(1920-2005)

With his plain and unwavering insistence on the central importance of the recognition of human dignity: he transformed the papacy, which was becoming increasingly moribund;  he brought a consistent moral voice to the discussion of political issues like abortion; and he was instrumental in bringing about the fall of Communism in Poland and, thereby, beginning the toppling of the dominoes.

See also, Orrin's review of:
    Centesimus Annus.
 

SUGGESTED READING:
    -Witness To Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II  (1999)(George Weigel)

WEBSITES:
    -The Holy See - The Vatican Website
    -His Holiness John Paul II (Catholic Information Center on Internet)
    -The Writings of Pope John Paul II - FTP archives of Catholic Information Network
    -His Holiness  Pope John Paul II (Writings and Speeches of John Paul II)
    -REVIEW: of John Paul II √ĚCrossing the Threshold of Hope (1994) (Philip Zaleski, First Things)
    -REVIEW: of WITNESS TO HOPE The Biography of Pope John Paul II. By George Weigel (Jon Meacham, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: Witness to Hope by George Weigel (Paul Johnson, Commentary)
    -REVIEW : of Witness to Hope by George Weigel A Pope Who Knows How to Pope (Elias Crim, Intellectual Capital)
    -REVIEW: The Man of the Century  A review by Lee Edwards of Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II  by George Weigel (World & I)
    -REVIEW : of  Witness To Hope by George Weigel The Legacy of John Paul II :  Why the bishop of Rome may be the most important figure in this secularist age.   (Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Christianity Today)
    -ESSAY: What Would the World Be Like Without Him? (Robin Wright, July 1994 Atlantic Monthly)



#3)        The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-68)

    "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by
    the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
                -August 28, 1963

Sooner or later, someone was going to have to stand up and insist that America fulfill the vision enunciated in the Declaration of Independence, "that all men are created Equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights."  There is an element of chance at work in the fact that King was a man fitted to a historic moment, but we must recognize the enormous dignity and the clarity of vision that he brought to the task.  The quote above defines the central aspiration upon which democracy is based and he did as much as any man in our nation's history to move us towards its realization.
 

See also, Orrin's review of:
    Dreamer: A Novel (1998)(Charles R. Johnson  1948-)   (Grade: C)

ADDITIONAL SUGGESTED READING:
    -Parting the Waters: America in the King Years. 1954-63  (Taylor Branch)
    -I Have a Dream (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
    -The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Martin Luther King, Jr. and Clayborne Carson--Editor )
 

WEBSITES:
    -MLK Web: A Teacher's Guide to Resources on the Web
    -Seattle Times: Martin Luther King Site
    -LETTER: From a Birmingham Jail
    -SPEECH: I Have a Dream (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
    -Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project (Stanford)
    -REVIEW: of PARTING THE WATERS America in the King Years 1954-63. By Taylor Branch (Eleanor Holmes Norton, NY Times Book Review)
    -We Shall Overcome: Historic Places of the Civil Rights Movement (National Park Service)
    -Martin Luther King, Jr. and  Black History Month: Selected Reference Sources from Louisiana State University Libraries



#4)        Ronald Wilson Reagan  (1911-2004)

His presidency was in many ways the culmination of Goldwater's failed 1964 campaign.  Indeed, Reagan came to the political forefront when he gave an extremely well received televised speech favoring Goldwater during that campaign.  But it is important to recall that Reagan took office at a time when the establishment consensus in the Western World held that:  the Presidency had simply become too overwhelming a job for any man to succeed in; democracy and capitalism were essentially failed systems that had not adapted to modern demands; that Communism in general and the USSR in particular were viable alternatives which would remain with us ad infinitum; and that the burgeoning size of government and taxation and regulation were natural developments and irreversible.  He put the lie to all of these suppositions.

One of his finest moments as President came out of the public relations disaster surrounding his visit to a German cemetery at Bitburg which contained SS war dead.  The speech he gave (May 5, 1985) contains one of the best quotes of his, or any,  Presidency:

    Twenty-two years ago President John F. Kennedy went to the Berlin Wall and proclaimed that he,
    too, was a Berliner. Well, today freedom-loving people around the world must say, I am a Berliner, I
    am a Jew in a world still threatened by anti-Semitism, I am an Afghan, and I am a prisoner of the
    Gulag, I am a refugee in a crowded boat foundering off the coast of Vietnam, I am a Laotian, a
    Cambodian, a Cuban, and a Miskito Indian in Nicaragua. I, too, am a potential victim of
    totalitarianism.

And in the final gracious act of his public life, Reagan announced to the public that he had Alzheimer's and bid farewell in a letter that is brimming with the confidence and thankfulness that characterized the man.

See also, Orrin's review of:

Morris, Edmund
    -Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan (1999)(read Orrin's review, Grade: A/F)

Winik, Jay
    -On the Brink   (read Orrin's review, Grade: A-)
 

ADDITIONAL SUGGESTED READING:

Cannon, Lou
    -President Reagan : The Role of a Lifetime

D'Souza, Dinesh
    -Ronald Reagan : How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader

Reagan, Ronald
    -Ronald Reagan: An American Life

Remnick, David
    -Lenin's Tomb : The Last Days of the Soviet Empire
 

WEBSITES:
    -Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
    -American President Life Portraits (C-SPAN)
    -Ronald Wilson Reagan (Internet Public Library POTUS)
    -Ronald Reagan (White House Site)
    -Ronald Reagan (Grollier)
    -The Ronald Reagan Homepage
    -Pictorial History of Ronald Reagan
    -SPEECH: Modern History Sourcebook: Ronald Reagan: A Time for Choosing Speech, 1964
    -SPEECH: Modern History Sourcebook: Ronald Reagan: Evil Empire Speech, June 8, 1982
    -SPEECH: Modern History Sourcebook: Ronald Reagan: Speech on the Challenger Disaster, January 28,1986
    -BOOKNOTES: Dutch by Edmund Morris (C-SPAN)
    -Cold War International History Project
    -Cold War Policies (1945-1991)
    -Final Report of THE INDEPENDENT COUNSEL FOR IRAN/CONTRA MATTERS
    -Iran/Contra Independent Prosecutor Executive Summary
    -Ronald Reagan Homepage
    -Who won the Cold War? by Jacob Heilbron (American Prospect)
 
 



#5)        George Orwell (1903-49)

In addition to his writings as a journalist, Orwell used two great dystopic novels and a memoir of the Spanish Civil War to lay bare the lie of Marxism/Communism.  His willingness to speak the truth was particularly courageous because it was a truth that the Western World was not willing to hear, coming, as it did, during and just after we had joined with the USSR to defeat Nazi Germany.  Moreover, many of those in power in both Britain and America, had either flirted with or were still clandestinely involved in Communist organizations and clung to the belief that Western capitalist democracy was doomed.

Homage to Catalonia, 1984 (see review) and Animal Farm (see review) stand as eloquent statements that indeed the contrary is true; Communism and all the other freedom denying ism's will never succeed in stifling man's desire for freedom.  In a way that no politician's speech or intelligence report could ever achieve, 1984 changed the way the Soviet Union was perceived in the West.  Like Toto ripping away the Wizard of Oz's curtain, Orwell dispelled the rosy Utopian glow that had surrounded the Bolshevik experiment and revealed the dingy gray lifeless reality.

See also, Orrin's reviews of:
Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936)(George Orwell 1903-1949)     (Grade: A)
Homage to Catalonia (1938)(George Orwell 1907-1949)     (Grade: A)
Coming Up for Air (1939)(George Orwell 1903-1949)     (Grade: A+)
Animal Farm (1946) (George Orwell  1903-1949)   (Grade: A+)
1984 (1949)(George Orwell 1903-1949)     (Grade: A+)
A Collection of Essays (1954)(George Orwell 1903-1949)     (Grade: A+)

WEBSITES:
    -George Orwell (Essays, Biblio, etc.)
    -George Orwell (Chestnut Tree Cafe)
    -George Orwell (Spartacus Educational Home Page)
    -The Orwell Reader
    -the Internet Public Library:  Online Literary Criticism Collection:  George Orwell (1903 - 1950)
    -Orwellian & Animal Farm Studies Resources  From the Chico High School Library
    -READERS GUIDE: Animal Farm (Novel Guide.com)
    -LINKS: George Orwell Resources
    -LINKS: Charles'  George Orwell Links
    -The Political Writings of George Orwell
    -ETEXT: 1984
    -ETEXT: Animal Farm
    -ETEXT: Articles
    -ETEXT: "George Gissing" (1948)
    -ETEXT: 'A Nice Cup of Tea' by George Orwell
    -ETEXT: Politics and the English Language BY George Orwell
    -ETEXT: The Prevention of Literature (1946)
    -ETEXT: Revenge is Sour
    -ETEXT: Shooting an Elephant BY George Orwell
    -ETEXT: You and the Atomic Bomb    by George Orwell
    -ETEXT:   Why Socialists Don't believe in Fun (1943)
    -ETEXT:   Notes on Nationalism (May 1945)
    -ETEXT: Why I Write (1947)
    -SUMMARY: The Road to Wigan Pier (Maros Kollar)
    -SUMMARY: Nineteen Eighty-Four (Maros Kollar)
    -SUMMARY: Animal Farm  (Maros Kollar)
    -ESSAY: A Comparison of Orwell's Animal Farm and 1984
    -ESSAY: Orwell & Marx: Animalism vs. Marxism
    -ESSAY: The big O: the reputation of George Orwell (Joseph Epstein, New Criterion)
    -DISCUSSION: the Journalism of George Orwell (radion national)
    -Senior  Seminar: Professor Osborne  War & Remembrance
    -ESSAY: WRITERS IN UNIFORM (Stephen Spender, NY Times Book Review)



#6)        Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-)

            When the time comes to seek a name for our century, it will probably be called the Century of
            Expellees and Prisoners. When people begin trying to add up the worldwide total of these
            unfortunate people, they will arrive at a number of displaced human beings big enough to
            populate entire continents.
               -Heinrich Boll

    No individual in all of history, completely on his own, using only the power of one, has changed the lives of more people than Soviet
    dissident writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
        -Tom Wolfe, TIME

If Orwell (along with Arthur Koestler and Whittaker Chambers) was the accuser of Communism, Solzhenitsyn was the prosecutor, painstakingly assembling the evidence from documents and from painful personal experience to demonstrate the truly evil empire that the Soviet Union had become.  And where other refugees from tyranny were so grateful to their hosts that they were seemingly unable to speak truthfully about them, Solzhenitsyn, in his devastating Harvard commencement speech, announced to a disbelieving Western liberal establishment that they had to bear a fair share of the blame for the suffering in countries like the USSR.  His brutal honesty got him expelled from the USSR, then ostracized by the American Establishment and now he is consciously ignored by the Russian people.  Though seemingly a figure from the 19th century, Solzhenitsyn is the quintessential voice of all the victims of the gulags and death camps and killing fields of a brutal 20th Century.

See also Orrin's reviews of :
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1963)(Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 1918-)     (Grade: A+)
The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956 : An Experiment in Literary Investigation (Volume I) (1973)(Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 1918-)    (Grade: A+)
The Russian Question at the End of the Twentieth Century (1995)(Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 1918-)    (Grade: A)

WEBSITES:
    -Autobiography of Alexander Solzhenitsyn (Electronic Nobel Museum)
    -BIO:  Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr (Isayevich)
    -INTERVIEW: Alexander Solzhenitsyn: "Not One Step Further": An Interview with Solzhenitsyn
    -SPEECH: A World Split Apart: Commencement Address Harvard University; June 8, 1978
    -SPEECH: Nobel Acceptance (1970)
    -EDITORIAL: "What Kind of 'Democracy' Is This?" New York Times, January 4, 1997
    -Russian Gadfly, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn by Katharena Eiermann
    -Nobel Novelists: Resources
    -Electronic Nobel Museum
    -Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Triumphant Return (Jay Rogers, Forerunner)
    -RUSSIAN EXILE WRITES OF REVOLUTION (Bernard Pivot. Boston Globe)
    -EXCERPT: Alexander Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
    -REVIEW: (Philip Rahv, NY Review of Books)
    -Class Page: Essay Topics and Critical Commentary
    -ESSAY: The View from Two Prisons:  The Stranger and Solzhenitsyn's Gulag  (James Bair)



#7)        John Ford (1894-1973)/John Wayne (1907-1979)

Of course, one of the most important developments of the Century was the rise of film and television with their unique capacity to reach mass audiences and shape, for good or ill, how we perceive ourselves.  Narrowly edging Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart, I choose John Ford and John Wayne as the director and actor whose respective bodies of work, often overlapping, best captured the American spirit.  Both men have been tremendously underrated because so much of their work product consisted of Westerns, the influence of which the establishment either denies or misunderstands. For it is the Western--with it's counterbalance of frontier vs. nascent civilization, societal lawlessness vs. rigid personal moral codes, individualism vs. corporate greed/gang mentality/etc. and the ruthless Social Darwinism-style meritocracy--more than any other literary form (except perhaps for the private eye novel which so resembles it) that expresses the ongoing struggle for liberty which lies at the center of the human drama generally, but which particularly informs our national mythos.

There is a very real sense in which it is not possible to understand the American people's self image without viewing them through the prism of the Golden Age of American Cinema from the 30's to the early 60's.  Who better to represent Film than the men who together created Stagecoach (1939), The Quiet Man (1952), The Searchers (1956), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Fort Apache (1948) etc., and separately made--John Ford--Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), The Last Hurrah (1958), Mr. Roberts (1955), How Green Was My Valley (1941) and The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and--John Wayne--Red River (1948), The Alamo (1960),  The Shootist (1976) and True Grit (1969).

SUGGESTED READING:
    -The Complete Films of John Wayne (Mark Ricci, Boris Zmijewsky, Steve Zmijewsky, Steven Zmijewsky)
    -John Wayne's America (Garry Wills)
    -Print the Legend : The Life and Times of John Ford (Scott Eyman)
    -REVIEW: John Wayne's America by Garry Wills (David Brooks, Commentary)

WEBSITES:
    -John Wayne Filmography (imdb)
    -John Wayne--An American Treasure (CyberNet Denis)
    -Birthplace of John Wayne
    -ESSAY: The Darkest Side of John Wayne (Jonathan Lethem, Salon)
    -The John Ford Web Page
    -John Ford Filmography (imdb)
    -BIO: John Ford
    -Elizabeth's John Ford Page


#8)        Brian Lamb

Bring them back from the grave for a glimpse of their creation and there are many things about modern American society that the Founding Fathers would find repellent.  But there is one new institution that they would be amazed by and would embrace wholeheartedly--C-SPAN.  The transparency and immediacy that C-SPAN has brought to the legislative and political process has been a great boon to the nation.  It has turned American government into a spectator sport and has created the opportunity for the citizenry to inform itself about the issues.  Throughout, the driving force behind the creation and development of the network has been Brian Lamb.  In addition, he hosts the finest show, Booknotes, in television history.

SUGGESTED READING:
    -The C-Span Revolution  (Stephen Frantzich, John Sullivan)
    -Booknotes : Life Stories : Notable Biographers on the People Who Shaped America (Brian Lamb)
    -Booknotes : America's Finest Authors on Reading, Writing, and the Power of Ideas (Brian Lamb)

WEBSITES:
    -C-SPAN
    -BOOKNOTES
    -BIO: (Ann Online)
    -INTERVIEW: (Ann Online)
    -INTERVIEW: with Brian Lamb, Bringing Democracy to Television (Michael H. Ebner, Organization of American Historians)
    -INTERVIEW: (Reason Magazine)
    -ESSAY: Brian Lamb's America (David Brooks, The Weekly Standard)
    -spanning the non-fiction world (nicholas a. basbanes, George, Jr.)



#9)        Tom Wolfe  (1931-)

Every society needs to have a gadfly to prick its pretensions.  In medieval times, Court Jesters were employed to belittle kings, lest they become to swell-headed.  Emperors had men who would follow them in processions of state, whispering in their ears, "Thou art mortal", lest they forget.  For thirty years now, America has had the great good fortune to have Tom Wolfe around to play this role and tell the emperor that he has no clothes.  Starting out as a precocious and savage essayist (see especially Radical Chic), he went on to the brilliant social history of The Painted Word, From Our House to Bauhaus and The Right Stuff and has now, with Bonfire of the Vanities, Ambush at Fort Bragg and A Man in Full,  become one of our most important novelists.

Throughout he has specialized in laying bare the hypocrisy, ridiculous fads and social trends of the hoi polloi, but it has become increasingly clear that he has simultaneously been crafting an extended dissertation on the American male--from Junior Johnson to Chuck Yeager to Conrad Hensley, Wolfe has somewhat surreptitiously been outlining a coherent vision of modern manhood that is, in and of itself, an important social philosophical statement.

SUGGESTED READING:
    -etext: THE LAST AMERICAN HERO by Tom Wolfe
    -Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers (1970)   (read Orrin's review, Grade: A+)
    -The Painted Word (1975)   (read Orrin's review, Grade: A+)
    -The Right Stuff (1979) (read Orrin's review, Grade: A+)
    -From Bauhaus to Our House (1981)   (read Orrin's review, Grade: A+)
    -The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987)
    -Ambush at Fort Bragg  (1997) (read Orrin's review, Grade: A)
    -A Man in Full  (1998) (read Orrin's review, Grade: A-)
    -Hooking Up  (1998) (read Orrin's review, Grade: A+)

WEBSITES:
    -Tom Wolfe: A Man in Full
    -ESSAY: Disciplines: What do a Jesuit priest, a Canadian communications theorist, and Darwin II all have in common? (Tom Wolfe, Forbes)
    -Profile: Tom Wolfe, in 'Full' flower (USA Today)
    -EXCERPT: Prologue
    -EXCERPT: Chapter Two
    -etext: THE LAST AMERICAN HERO by Tom Wolfe
    -ESSAY: TOM WOLFE (Richard A. Kallan)
    -ESSAY: Don Dapper: Tom Wolfe conquers windmills on Brown's battlefield (Amanda Griscom)
    -INTERVIEW: "TOM WOLFE AND HIS CRITICS" (Firing Line)
    -Article: by TOM WOLFE SORRY, BUT YOUR SOUL JUST DIED (Forbes)
    -Caricature from The Atlantic
    -CBC Interview
    -INTERVIEW (Steve Hammer NUVO Newsweekly)
    -Tom Wolfe: The Satirist of Society (Caitlin Allen, Brighton High School)
    -Creative Nonfiction: Writers and Their Works
    -TOM WOLFE'S NEW JOURNALISM PICKS
    -NEW JOURNALISM by Dave Selden, Jr.
    -Parajournalism II: Wolfe and The New Yorker (DWIGHT MACDONALD, NY Review of Books)
    -The Birth of Way New Journalism (Joshua Quittner,  HotWired)



#10)        Elvis Presley  (1935-77)

                There's a pretty little thing,
                waiting for the King
                down in the Jungle Room
                    -Marc Cohn, Walking in Memphis

No other figure sits astride the modern Media Age quite the way Elvis does; in addition to being the King of Rock and Roll (the quintessential American music form), he was also a major movie star, provided several of the seminal moments in television history and helped to create Las Vegas.  Most importantly, unlike many of his fellow singers and actors, he never confused his celebrity with political relevance.  He remained a simple, bashful, good-ole-boy and if he lived a life of physical excess, well...we'll call him the tragic hero of this list.  He is the seminal figure in the development of American pop culture and, altogether fittingly, was ultimately consumed by it.

See also, Orrin's review of:

Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley (1994) (Peter Guralnick)   (Grade: A)

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING:
    -Mystery Train : Images of America in Rock 'N' Roll Music (Greil Marcus)
    -Careless Love : The Unmaking of Elvis Presley (Peter Guralnick)

RECOMMENDED LISTENING:
    -The King Of Rock 'N' Roll: The Complete 50's Masters
    -Artist Of The Century
    -Elvis Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis
    -Memories: The '68 Comeback Special

WEBSITES:
    -Elvis Presley's Graceland (official site)
    -Elvis Presley Online
    -Elvis Lives
    -Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Elvis Presley 1986, Performer

NOTES:
Main Entry: Man·i·chae·an
Variant(s): or Man·i·che·an /"ma-n&-'kE-&n/; or Man·i·chee /'man-&-"kE/
Function: noun
Etymology: Late Latin manichaeus, from Late Greek manichaios, from Manichaios Manes died ab
276 A.D. Persian founder of the sect
Date: 1556
1 : a believer in a syncretistic religious dualism originating in Persia in the 3d century A.D. and teaching
the release of the spirit from matter through asceticism
2 : a believer in religious or philosophical dualism
- Manichaean adjective
- Man·i·chae·an·ism /"ma-n&-'kE-&-"ni-z&m/ noun
- Man·i·chae·ism /'ma-n&-(")kE-"i-z&m/ noun