This book is a joy to read-rich, informative, at times quite funny, at other times remarkably illuminating about both the period under discussion and our own troubled era. Jerome Loving is one of our preeminent American literary biographers; he has written himself-via his masterful trilogy of biographies of the nation’s first truly democratic writers (Whitman, Twain, and Dreiser)-into the distinguished company of Justin Kaplan, Gay Wilson Allen, and Robert D. Richardson.