Those Days: An American Album

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Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1986 - Reference - 419 pages
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The MacArthur Grant-winning journalist who has written previously on village life in Asia, Africa, and Latin America here turns to his own heritage in a history of his family from 1880-1940. Initially, the book seems a skillful, but placid portrait of rural Midwestern life. However, uncovering the tragic dissolution of Critchfield's father--the author knew him only as a young child--turns the story from thoughtful nostalgia into a brooding chronicle that is turbulent, disturbing, and completely fascinating. The book's core is drawn from interviews with neighbors and family, as well as contemporary local newspapers, and hundreds of family documents, letters and journals. These pages of interviews re-create the dream-like workings of memory, fastening on minor details, linking unrelated images and ideas, omitting basic facts, yet telling the important story. Critchfield extrapolates and fills in details, his careful research justifies and gives credence to these fictions.

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Those days: an American album

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Using letters, newspapers, private journals, family oral tradition, interviews, and imagination, the author has crafted a family history spanning a period of great fundamental change, 1880-1940 ... Read full review


Saints 17741884
Hadwen and Jessie Family Journal 188491

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About the author (1986)

Richard Critchfield was a journalist for the Christian Science Monitor, Washington Star, Economist, and International Herald Tribune. He received awards from the Overseas Press Club of America (for his reporting from Vietnam), the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Alicia Patterson Foundation. In 1981-86, he became one of the first MacArthur Fellows. Critchfield's books explore remote villages throughout the world. His writings on the U.S., Those Days and Trees, Why Do You Wait?, look at the country's rural social history. The books that focus on other countries look at small villages and examine their social connections. For example, in Villages, Critchfield notes the similarities and differences among villages and the relationships of villages to cities. His attitude was that great change might best be observed not in the cultural centers of the world (Tokyo, London, New York), but in the areas of the world where most people lived, such as the villages of Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

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