- Robert E. Sherwood
In this book, Harriet Hyman Alonso unravels Sherwood's inner struggle and portrays his political journey. Relying largely on his letters, diaries, plays, films, essays, and biography of Roosevelt and Harry Hopkins, she traces Sherwood's obsession with the world of politics and its effects on his life and art, from his experience as a soldier in World War I to the Cold War. She also describes his participation in the Algonquin Round Table, his friendships and working relationships with such notables as Alfred Lunt, Lynn Fontanne, Edna Ferber, Spencer Tracy, Harry Hopkins, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, his two marriages and uneasy relationship with his daughter, and his leadership role in the Broadway community.
Alonso brings together history, theater and film studies, and peace studies in this interdisciplinary political biography. In the process, she illuminates major currents in U.S. foreign policy, society, and culture from 1896 to 1955—the years of the remarkable life of Robert E. Sherwood.
Harriet Hyman Alonso is professor of history at The City College of New York, CUNY, where she currently serves as chair of the Department of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the Center for Worker Education. Her most recent book, Growing Up Abolitionist: The Story of the Garrison Children (University of Massachusetts Press, 2002), won the Warren F. Kuehl Prize from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.
"This is a richly textured treatment of one of America's most honored yet long-forgotten playwrights, Robert E. Sherwood, who also helped provide a model of the public intellectual."—Journal of American History
"Alonso's highly readable Robert E. Sherwood: The Playwright in Peace and War stands out for its timely themes: politics and international conflict. . . . Alonso . . . is particularly concerned with the swelling and ebbing of Sherwood's pacifism. Turned anti-military by World War I (he was gassed in the French trenches), the playwright experiences a "sea change" in opinion during the rise of fascism. Fortunately, Alonso's attention to this particular issue doesn't blinker the wider view: She channels her pacifism-related expertise into a comprehensive and authoritative consideration of Sherwoods's life as a whole."—American Theatre
"Alonso's engagingly written study is a welcome and original addtion to the field in that she provides a thorough single volume comprehensive biography of the playwright."—Theatre Survey
"This biography of Sherwood brilliantly demonstrates the complexity of pacifism as a personal belief system. . . . The writing is wonderful, the chapters are nicely balanced, and the organization of the material on both the personal life and the writings is excellent."—Melanie Gustafson, Department of History, University of Vermont
"This reader-friendly book written in lucid, accessible prose is an extraordinary accomplishment. . . . Alonso's handling of Sherwood's journey provides pleasure, joy, and engagement for anyone interested in pacifism, war, peace, politics, theater, history, and culture."—Howard Stein, emeritus, Center for Theatre Studies, Columbia University
". . . . a valuable book for the American historian, peace history scholar, or theater historian. . . . Harriet Hyman Alonso's devotion to her subject and dogged research is evidenced in the text and thorough bibliography. Her archival work is detailed and flawless. Her seamless intertwining of the historical and the theatrical makes this work an invaluable interdisciplinary contribution."—Peace & Change
"From the point of view of theatre or cultural studies, this book is invaluable. . . .This is an engaging look at a playwright too often forgotten in theatre studies. Alonso's examination of Sherwood's family history and marriage and her look at his World War I experiences provide a many-layered context to the work of this prolific playwright and author. The details it provides about Sherwood and his work with the Playwrights' Company and his collaborations with Lunt and Fontaine make for excellent theatre history. It would make a good addition to the libarary of anyone interested in twentieth-century American theatre."—Theatre Journal