I suppose Baloo is a Baby Boomer of a special kind – one of a kind, in fact – a Baby Baloomer.
Baloo has recommended the book Generation of Vipers. You can get it at:
or right here:
Philip Wylie-Generation of Vipers
Other writers that I read starting when I was eleven or twelve were Robert Heinlein, Philip Wylie, and, of all people, Stuart Chase. Everybody knows Heinlein still, Wylie is quite obscure now, but he’s the guy who wrote Gladiator, which inspired the creation of the Superman comic-book character. He influenced a lot of people, I’m sure. You can read about him here [link]. One of his non-fiction books, A Generation of Vipers, really blew my young mind. All I clearly remember is that it was an indictment of just about everything.
Stuart Chase [link] is even more obscure these days
I will be adding pages to celebrate important thinkers like Wylie and Chase.
From Generation of Vipers:
They knew it would mightily
offend many highly placed individuals and many powerful minority groups. They thought,
perhaps, (as I thought) that it might offend everybody. But they brought it out with utter aplomb
and their usual skill—in January of 1943. They did this, I might add, in the face of doubt
expressed by some of their readers and the violent assertion (made by a famous “liberal” who
was shown the manuscript) that the book was “fascist” and should be suppressed. My publishers,
as much as I, were annoyed that a “liberal” would suddenly clamor for book suppression! The
first edition was of four thousand copies, a number commensurate with sales of my previous
books and one I thought high for the current treatise. Even before publication, however, I began
to have an inkling of what was to come. An extraordinarily praiseful letter was written to Farrar
and Rinehart by Taylor Caldwell, who had been sent a pre-publication copy. A wire also came
from Earnest Hooton, the late Harvard anthropologist, which wound up: PUT OUT THE
LANTERN OF DIOGENES FOR HERE BY GOD IN THE PLAIN LIGHT OF DAY IS AN
HONEST MAN. And, on the Sunday before publication, Walter Winchell (with whom I had
long labored in the “Stop Hitler” movement) highly recommended “Vipers” in his evening
broadcast. The four thousand copies melted fast enough. The book has now sold more than one
hundred and eighty thousand copies and its recent annual sales have approximated five thousand.
Criticisms were mixed but never neutral; reviewers went out of their way to commend the book
or to seek terms of scorn that matched my own. The response of readers, however, was
awesome—and remains so. This may be partly owing to the fact that I invited correspondence in
the forematter of the book. People possibly hesitate to write to authors for fear of being snubbed
by silence; if so, my casual invitation undid that restraint. In the first year after publication I
answered more than ten thousand letters. They came from every sort of American—from soldiers
and sailors and marines overseas, from ministers of the Gospel and Middle Western farmers’
wives, from day laborers who “read the book five times over with the help of a dictionary,” from
young people in college and high school, from moms and pops—the very people I had
indicted—from industrial tycoons and newspaper publishers and the presidents of banks, from
college deans and generals and admirals, from Aldous Huxley and the late Harold Ickes and
Hedy LaMarr. And more than ninety-five in every hundred liked “Vipers”!
In the years that have passed since then I have heard from fifty or sixty thousand people.
“Vipers” has become a kind of “standard work” for Americans who love liberty, detest smugness
and are anxious about the prospects of our nation. It has been studied by scores of Bible classes.
It has also been proscribed by Catholics. It has been quoted in unrecorded dozens of other books;
it is “compulsory reading” in hundreds of college English and journalism classes. In 1950 it was
selected by The American Library Association as one of the major nonfiction works of the first
half century. It was used, during the war, as an instrument for “briefing” those British officers
who were to have contact with our troops, on the nature and neuroses of genus homo, race
Americanus. And it no longer seems possible for any author, lay or scientific, to discuss
motherhood and mom without noting that the dark side of that estate was defined earlier by me.
Those are but a few of the vicissitudes of “Vipers.” I daresay this new, annotated edition
will augment their number and their bewildering nature.
Two reactions to “Vipers” are common enough to warrant brief discussion here.
A great many people have asked me, often with evident anguish, this question: Are you
It is easy enough to reply, “Lord, yes!”