This book is the first comprehensive, single volume history of American literature since The Columbia Literary History of the United States edited by Elliott Emory and published sixteen years ago. It is a puzzle, given the extraordinary interest in American literature at home and abroad, that so few full histories of American literature have been published. Consider the fact that the Columbia history arrived nearly four decades after R. E. Spiller’s Literary History of the United States. What makes Gray’s book so extraordinary is that it supercedes the Spiller and Emory texts in nearly every respect, and even challenges the supremacy of the titanic (this pun is intentional), multi-volume, still-evolving Cambridge History of American Literature. How Gray managed to so captivatingly capture the depth and breadth of so complex a literature in under a thousand pages is worth considering. […] Richard Gray possesses the most balanced scholarship of the entire range of American literature I ever read. […] This is the first history of American literature fully worthy of the multi-dimensionality of its subject.” — Norman Weinstein , Boise State University

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