The first novel of the monumental U.S.A. trilogy, The 42nd Parallel, opens amid the bright hopes and ominous foreshadowings of the dawn of the twentienth century in America. The novel's subject is America, as represented by her great men, by her popular culture, by the autobiographical evocations of an unseen author, and by the lives of vividly created fictional characters. These protagonists—a young man on the make, a frigid career woman, a defiant radical, a "nice girl" gone wrong, a footloose drifter—live to the pulsebeat of their times, their personal destinies transformed into the substance of history. Through dazzling narrative juxtapositions and a prose that attains an electric poetry, we see relentlessly unroll the savage, sorrowful panorama of a nation's loss of innocence. As Alfred Kazin writes, "What Dos Passos created with The 42nd Parallel was in fact another American invention...the greatest possible homage to art as a new kind of 'practicality' in getting down the facts of human existence in our century."
Nineteen Nineteen and The Big Money, the second and third novels of U.S.A., are also available in Signet Classic editions. Each can be read as a separate novel. Together they form a landmark achievement in modern American fiction.
With an Introduction by Alfred Kazin
With the original illustrations by Reginald Marsh
eBook The 42nd Parallel