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Mencken: The American Iconoclast

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  122 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
A towering figure on the American cultural landscape, H.L. Mencken stands out as one of our most influential stylists and fearless iconoclasts--the twentieth century's greatest newspaper journalist, a famous wit, and a constant figure of controversy.
Marion Elizabeth Rodgers has written the definitive biography of Mencken, the most illuminating book ever published about t
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Hardcover, 662 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2005)
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George
Jan 03, 2014 George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WONDERFULLY ICONOCLASTIC.

“He pummeled censorship, Prohibition, and hypocritical Puritanism with equal ardor. The defense of individual freedom always brought out the best of his powers, and the suppression of civil liberties became one of his dominant targets, bringing it more fully into the mainstream of public discourse.”—page 227/673

Standard disclaimer: In my personal pantheon of heroes, Henry Louis Mencken has long been idealized, lionized, and even damn near canonized, as one of the all-tim
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Matthew W
Apr 18, 2010 Matthew W rated it it was amazing
How ironic that the most extensive biography covering the controversial life of the author of "In Defense of Women" was written by a beautiful woman. Marion Elizabeth Rodgers has no doubt written the most intimate(using mainly primary sources) work on the life of Baltimore's greatest sage H.L. Mencken. I am sure Mencken would have been flattered to have read Rodger's wonderful book.
Andrew
Nov 22, 2011 Andrew rated it really liked it
A biography of Mencken that updates ones by William Manchester and Charles A. Fecher. It underscores the popularity of the iconoclast in the beginning of the 20th Century for his stands on censorship, Prohibition, evangelicals -- and particularly his American literary criticism. Later he would become rabidly anti-government (or anti-New Deal) and gradually become disengaged from popular culture because of his dislike of movies, radio and television.

In a sense Henry L. Mencken was a Victorian pro
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deLille
My husband is laughing because my copy of this book has oodles of different colored sticky tabs sticking out from the different pages, each one marking something that Mencken said that I wanted to highlight. (Yes, I know, it's time to get a Kindle and electronically highlight all those passages, but I can't help myself. I just love books. Each one has its own personality... its feel, its heft, its typeset, the texture and smell of its pages... all of this is lost on a Kindle.)

I absolutely loved
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Pat Rolston
Feb 24, 2016 Pat Rolston rated it it was amazing
I wanted to learn more about Mencken the man and his personal history before further reading of his essays, Prejudices: The Complete Series. Marion Rogers is a new author for me and I am thrilled to have found her book biography documenting HR Mencken. This is one of the best written biographies I have had the pleasure to read and HR Mencken turns out for me to be one of the best subjects. His worldview has been validated by history while those areas from which he diverged are less profound than ...more
Victoria Miller
Mar 20, 2015 Victoria Miller rated it it was amazing
Until I read this book, I knew little about H.L. Mencken, other than being familiar with the name. After reading this book, I feel like he is a personal friend. Additionally, I was amazed at how much I learned of American history that you don't learn from the American history books. Henry Mencken was a very complex and unique individual, who had no qualms about saying what was on his mind, no matter how many people railed against him and shook their fists (and probably many threw things). He was ...more
Joy H.
Apr 22, 2016 Joy H. marked it as skimmed-partially
Added 3/20/16. (first published January 1st 2005)
I know I'll never be able to finish reading this tome but I'm going to try to savor as much of it as I can. I've borrowed it from our public library. Too bad they don't have it as an audio book.

4/22/16 - I skimmed parts of this book. Pretty dense reading. While some of it interested me, much of it dealt with areas in which I had no interest. Of course, Mencken was a very witty man and it's fun reading some of his comments. I got the impression he
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Jeff
Aug 06, 2009 Jeff rated it it was amazing
I haven't given a book five stars since creating my Goodreads account, so now is as good a time as any.

Mencken, like me, was a big fan of the word "mountebank".
Scott Silverman
Jan 14, 2013 Scott Silverman rated it it was amazing
Hits all the right notes. Take Twain, add acid-- enjoy Mencken.
Voices Of
Feb 07, 2009 Voices Of rated it really liked it
I just finished reading this book and if you want to learn about one of the most influential journalists of the early 20th century this is a great place to start. Mencken was a consistent defender of freedom of speech and particularly the freedom (and responsibility) of the press to question the actions of those in power. He was constantly a gadfly to the media inciting them to be skeptical of the motives of our leaders. Quite an interesting man. This book was written well enough that it did...m ...more
Josh
Feb 07, 2009 Josh rated it really liked it
I just finished reading this book and if you want to learn about one of the most influential journalists of the early 20th century this is a great place to start. Mencken was a consistent defender of freedom of speech and particularly the freedom (and responsibility) of the press to question the actions of those in power. He was constantly a gadfly to the media inciting them to be skeptical of the motives of our leaders. Quite an interesting man. This book was written well enough that it did not ...more
Robert Maier
Apr 13, 2012 Robert Maier rated it really liked it
The tale of Mencken's life is fascinating and illuminating. The writing is a little disjointed and the time periods are frequently interwoven, and you get off track. It's a book written by a thorough researcher, who never quite grasped how to juggle simultaneous events into a smooth narrative arc. She makes a valiant try, but maybe the editors were too much in a hurry to get it out, and just abandoned the attempts for chronological clarity for the sake of expediency. In his own books, Mencken ma ...more
Pnorman811
Apr 09, 2008 Pnorman811 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
I've been reading this slowly for months. It is a good introduction to the man. He has so much to offer in his views of the U.S in the early last century and of people in general. I will probably be exploring books written BY him and about him in the future.
W.T.
Dec 16, 2013 W.T. rated it it was amazing
THE BAD-BOY OF BALTIMORE!!! Hunter Thompson had a great admiration for this man as he fought against censorship long before it was hip. My admiration for Thompson got me reading into the people that he admired...Thanks to The Good Doctor.
Thombeau
Jun 29, 2012 Thombeau rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Extremely readable, fact-filled bio on the influential and controversial writer and pundit H.L. Mencken. Seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Susan
Aug 22, 2011 Susan rated it it was ok
Interesting life, but I can only get through a few pages a night - so it's good bedside reading.
Gmnielsen
I haven't read a biography in a long time. This one makes me want to read more Mencken.
John
Jul 03, 2013 John rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Excellent. One of the best biographies I've ever read.
Casey72
Jan 08, 2012 Casey72 rated it really liked it
I've read three biographies on this person!
David
Mar 10, 2008 David rated it it was amazing
The best bio I've ever read.....
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