American National Biography

“Well, it’s like a big telephone book of American history.” — general editor John A. Garraty

More than 17,000 entries written (I can assure you) by the top scholars. Selected bibliographies for each subject, thoughtfully annotated.

More than 17,000 entries written (I can assure you) by the top scholars. Selected bibliographies for each subject, thoughtfully annotated.

Today we’re featuring our wonderful, 24-volume American National Biography (Oxford University Press). No better way to pass an afternoon than to thumb through a blindly chosen volume of the ANB. It is, with key lime pie and gin, one of life’s greatest pleasures.

So I ask you, connoisseur of things American: what do you think you know? Could you tell me, for instance, which famous American I’m thinking of, on the back of only a few biographical details?

Let’s find out. Here’s your clue. This celebrated American writer and adventurer spent a sheltered childhood in a well-to-do village with an evening curfew of 8pm (summers 9pm). By his twenties he was travelling all over Europe and writing short newspaper pieces with names like “American Bohemians in Paris a Weird Lot” and “Try Bob-Sledding If You Want Thrills.”

Who is it? I’ll post the answer tomorrow.

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Filed under American Culture, Books

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