I am grateful to many friends and colleagues for the advice and sup-
port they gave me while I worked on this project. Rachel Adams,
Jesse Ashlock, Jennifer Ashton, Daniel Born, Deirdre Day-MacLeod,
Dewar MacLeod, Mary Esteve, Maria Farland, Hilene Flanzbaum,
Noah Isenberg, Natasha Korda, Doug Mao, Marybeth McMahon,
Bob Mirandon, Ross Posnock, Joe Reed, Carlo Rotella, Peggy Sam-
uels, Richard Slotkin, William Stowe, Michael Szalay, Betsy Traube,
Michael Trask, Joe Vizcarrondo, Ingrid Walker Fields, Mark Weiner,
David Weisberg, and Chris Zinn read all or portions of the manu-
script and offered helpful responses and superb advice. Henry Abe-
love and Richard Ohmann gave me invaluable guidance. George
Donahue provided vital material support at a key point in the book’s
progress. Morris Dickstein, William Kelly, Louis Menand, and Wal-
ter Benn Michaels gave the benefit of their wisdom and, more impor-
tantly, provided models of scholarly and intellectual excellence.
I am also indebted for their assistance to the librarians at the Harry
Ransom Humanities Center of the University of Texas, the ucla
Special Collections Library, and the Fales Library at New York Uni-
versity. An neh Summer Seminar Fellowship and a fellowship at the
Wesleyan Center for the Humanities each gave me time for research
and provided me with perceptive audiences at an early stage in the
project’s development. I am thankful, too, to Lesley Himes for per-
mission to quote from Chester Himes’s letters, to Sharon Thompson
Reed for permission to quote from Jim Thompson’s letters, and to
the Literary Property Trustees Under the Will of Lillian Hellman for
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