Buy the Book
George Orwell: A Life in Letters
Selected and Annotated by Peter Davison
(Norton, 542 pages, $35)
HOW MUCH OF the real George Orwell can be found in this new collection of letters is an open question. “Good prose,” he once wrote, “is like a window pane.” The good writer, he told us, will strive mightily to efface all artifice from any piece of writing, leaving behind only his gleaming sentences and the thoughts and images of which they are the direct and flawless expression.
Bayard Rustin: Troubles I've Seen: A Biography
By Jervis Anderson
(HarperCollins, 418 pages, $30)
Besides being a brilliant political strategist and organizer, Bayard Rustin was one of the civil rights movement's most vivid and original personalities. A close aide to Martin Luther King, Rustin played a pivotal role in mobilizing the American conscience against Jim Crow. By the time of his death in 1987 at the age of 75, however, Rustin was reviled by much of the civil rights establishment, and today he is nearly forgotten. Fortunately, New Yorker magazine staff writer Jervis Anderson's admirable biography of Rustin brings the old fighter to life. It also offers a succinct history of the civil rights movement's rise and fall.