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By Edith Wharton

Encouraged by way of a tender guy Edith Wharton met in the course of her war relief paintings in France, A Son on the Front(1923) opens in Paris on July 30, 1914, as Europe totters near to struggle.

Expatriate American painter John Campton, whose purely son George, having been born in Paris, needs to record for accountability within the French army, struggles to maintain his son clear of front while grappling with the ethical implications of his actions. A poignant meditation on paintings and ownership, fidelity and responsibility, A Son on the Front is Wharton’s indelible tackle the battle novel.

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S. before the writers’ very eyes. They changed the nation in ways alternately radiant and wicked, necessitating that a divine spirit—or a determined writer—stop to speak the truth of what she saw, and of the revolution through which she lived, before a newer world appeared to take the old one’s place. But first, to the 1830s: a brief letter, and the difficult days that followed it. The Devil and His Angels 27 010 1-186 7/25/08 12:47 PM Page 28 2 The Panic of 1837 and the Failures of Literary Men It seemed to have such a simple beginning: an order issued by a bureaucrat, expressed in dry, governmental prose, concerning the types of payment acceptable for sales of public lands.

Yet most banking and economic histories record only public insatiability for more and more banks with fewer regulations. “In many regions anyone who demanded specie in exchange for bank notes was popularly dubbed an ‘extortionist’ and a ‘bloodsucker,’” write Shultz and Caine. “A Boston broker was actually brought before a grand jury in Vermont on the attorney-general’s charge that he was guilty of an indictable offense for demanding the redemption of certain bank notes” (149). In part, public demand for easily accessible banks with flexible standards reflected the crucial role that such institutions played in the nation’s economic and political development.

The majority of the authors in this study did not enjoy great fame; I have focused upon those primarily or wholly identified with their chosen social movement, persons whom, to borrow from a recent political line, could be seen as “card-carrying members” of a particular activism. The Devil and His Angels 21 010 1-186 7/25/08 12:46 PM Page 22 What allies them to my handful of popular names—Stowe, Child, T. S. 17 What is the truth espoused in social reform writings? The specific answers vary with the specific movements, but a general answer might go like this: the truth is that America is a very different country from what you think it is.

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