The Penguin Press


New Anthology: Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers, and Swells: The Best of Early Vanity Fair by Graydon Carter and David Friend

New Anthology: Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers, and Swells: The Best of Early Vanity Fair by Graydon Carter and David Friend

From October 1916


You see, this was the way it happened. The first one of them all was Ralph. His was one of those sweet, unsullied natures that believes everything it sees in the papers, and no matter what I said, he would gaze into my eyes and murmur “yes.” He had positively cloying ideas about women. If any girl in his vicinity lit a cigarette, Ralph’s eyes, behind their convex lenses, assumed the expression of a wounded doe’s. He superfluously assisted me up and down curbs; he was always inserting needless cushions behind my back. He laboriously brought me a host of presents that I didn’t want— friendship calendars, sixth- best sellers, and the kind of flowers that one puts in vases— but never wears. He had acquired a remarkable muscular development merely from helping me on with so many wraps and coats. His greatest fault was his lack of them. I felt that life with Ralph would be a deep dream of peace, and I was just on the verge of giving him his answer and receiving his virginal kiss, when, in a flash of clairvoyance, I had a startlingly clear vision of the future. I seemed to see us— Ralph and me— settled down in an own- your- own
bungalow in a twenty- minute suburb. I saw myself surrounded by a horde of wraps and sofa pillows. I saw us gathered around the lamp of a winter evening, reading aloud from “Hiawatha.” I saw myself a member of the Society Opposed to Woman Suffrage . . . . . .
So I told Ralph that I wouldn’t, just as gently as possible, and he went away to sob it out on his mother’s shoulder.


Maximilian was the next disillusionment. He was an artist and had long nervous hands and a trick of impatiently tossing his hair out of his eyes. He capitalized the A in art. Together we plumbed the depths of Greenwich Village, seldom coming above Fourteenth Street for air. We dined in those how- can- they‑do‑it‑for- fifty- cents table d’hôtes, where Maximilian and his little group of serious thinkers were wont to gather about dank bottles of sinister claret and flourish marked copies of “The Masses.” I learned to make sweeping gestures with my bent- back thumb, to smile tolerantly at the mention of John Sargent; to use all the technical terms when I discussed Neo-Malthusianism. Maximilian made love in an impersonal sort of way. He called me “Comrade” and flung a casual arm across my shoulders whenever he happened to think of it.
But the end came. Maximilian painted my portrait. Chaperoned by an astounded aunt, I posed for him in an utterly inadequate bit of green gauze; posed until every muscle ached. Finally, one day, Maximilian flung his brush across the room— narrowly missing my aunt— threw himself into a chair, and wearily drew his hand across his eyes, murmuring, “It is done.”

I stole around and looked over his shoulder at the canvas— and immediately Love went out of my life. Reader— are you by any chance a pool-player? Well, the only thing I can think of that the portrait resembled was what is known in pool circles as an “open break.” I turned and fled from Max and Bohemia. I didn’t know much about Art, but I knew what I didn’t like.


Perhaps it was only natural that the next one should be Jim. He was a thirty- third degree man about town. He could tell at a glance which one of the Dolly Sisters was Mrs. Harry Fox, and he could keep track of Nat Goodwin’s marriages without calling in the aid of an expert accountant and a Burrowes adding machine. His peacock blue Rolls- Royce had worn a deep groove in Broadway and his checked suits kept just within the law about disturbing the public peace. Jim was a man of few words; his love- making consisted of but two phrases—“ What are you going to have?” and
“Where do we go from here?” I shall never forget the thrill of entering restaurant after restaurant with Jim and watching the headwaiters do everything but kiss him.
It was an idyll, while it lasted. We used to sit, a table’s breadth apart, at cabarets, and shriek soft nothings at each other above the blare of the Nubian band, while waiters literally groveled at our feet. Jim gave me the deepest, truest love he had ever given a woman. In his affections I was rated third— first, and second, Haig and Haig; and then, third, me. I began to feel that life with him would be one long all- night cabaret, and I was just about to become the owner of the largest engagement ring in the city, when, one night we went to a dinner. Not a cabaret dinner, but one where two famous authors sat and ate with their forks, just like regular people. Everyone was properly stricken with awe— everyone, that is, but Jim. While the rest of us hung on the gloomy utterances of the authors, Jim loudly discussed (with a kindred spirit across the table) the certainty of “Hatrack’s” winning the fourth race at Belmont Park, offering to back his conviction with a large quantity of coin of the realm, and urging that his friend either produce a similar amount of currency, or else desist from arguing. Under cover of the table, I kicked him into quietude. Presently a point was reached in the lofty- browed discourse whereon the two celebrities differed, and, as if going to the right source for information, they turned to Jim.
“Now what is your opinion of Baudelaire?” they inquired.
Jim looked up with that same perfectly‑at‑home air with which he entered the New Amsterdam theater on the first night of the Follies.
“I really can’t say,” he explained, affably, “I’ve never seen him get a good sweat- out in practise.”
The silence that ensued seems still to crash in my ears . . .


New Nonfiction: Victoria: A Life by acclaimed biographer A.N. Wilson

A. N. Wilson is an accomplished biographer and the author of Victoria: A Life. Full Bio

Victoria for website


Victoria was indeed situated as mortal seldom was. This makes her story of abiding fascination. Her father and mother might so easily not have had a child at all. Once born, Victoria’s often solitary childhood was the oddest of preparations for what she was to become: not merely the mother of nine and the grandmother of forty-two children, but the matriarch of Royal Europe. She was either the actual ancestor of or was connected by marriage to nearly all the great dynasties of Europe, and in almost each of those crowned or coroneted figureheads, there was bound up a political story. Her destiny was thus interwoven with that of millions of people—not just in Europe, but in the ever-expanding Empire which Britain was becoming throughout the nineteenth century. One day to be named the Empress of India, the ‘pretty-looking little creature’ had a face which would adorn postage stamps, banners, statues and busts all over the known world. And this came about, as the Germanophile Thomas Carlyle would have been the first to recognize, because of the combination of two peculiar factors: firstly, that Victoria was born at the very moment of the expansion of British political and commercial power throughout the world; and secondly that she was born from that stock of (nearly all German) families who tended to supply the crowned heads for the monarchies of the post-Napoleonic world.

New Nonfiction: Knife Fights: A Memoir of Modern War in Theory and Practice by John A. Nagl

John A. Nagl is a retired lieutenant colonel of the U.S. Army and the author of Knife Fights: A Memoir of Modern War in Theory and Practice. Full Bio

New Nonfiction: Knife Fights: A Memoir of Modern War in Theory and Practice by John A. Nagl

Ghostriders in the Storm

When do you want to meet the men, Lieutenant?” The Puerto Rican accent was always thick, but it got thicker when he was mad. We’d goad him on purpose, pretending not to be able to understand him, until Sergeant Claudio got so frustrated that he’d throw his hat onto the hot sand and stomp off spouting unintelligible Puerto Rican expletives. It never got old.

But that came later, after I’d met the men. “Um, now, I guess,” was my answer, sounding a bit more like the soft graduate student of international relations I’d recently been and less like the gruff, hardened first lieutenant of armor I hoped to project to my troops.

I’d just left Oxford in the summer of 1990. After allowing me to read books and drink warm English beer for two years, the Army had ordered me to remedial tank training at Fort Knox before an assignment to Fort Hood, Texas, the largest army post in the free world. More…

New Nonfiction: Even This I Get to Experience by Norman Lear

Norman Lear is the author of Even This I Get to Experience. Full Bio

New Nonfiction: Even This I Get to Experience by Norman Lear

Early one Sunday morning in 1983, I got a call from my friend John Mitchell, who was then the president of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He was calling to tell me that the academy was creating a Hall of Fame and that I, along with six others whose illustrious company it astounded me to be included among, was to be one of the first inductees.

I instantly phoned my mother back in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Now, I thought, I would finally get the maternal seal of approval that I was still searching for at age sixty-one. She answered with her usual three syllables, “Hell-ohoh,” a sound that always seemed caught between a whine and a cry of pain. In my exultant mood, though, I heard it this time as if she’d exclaimed, at last, in a tone of naked delight, “Norman, sweetheart!”

“Mother,” I exploded, “I just got a confidential call from a friend. Nobody knows this yet so you can’t tell anyone, but the Television Academy is starting a Hall of Fame, and these will be the first inductees: the man who started NBC, General David Sarnoff; the founder of CBS, William S. Paley; maybe the greatest newscaster of all time, Edward R. Murrow; easily the best writer that ever came out of television, Paddy Chayefsky; the two greatest comedians in television history, Lucille Ball and Milton Berle; and . . . me!”

My mother didn’t miss a beat. “Listen,” she said, “if that’s what they want to do, who am I to say?” More…

New Nonfiction: The News Sorority: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour—and the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News by Sheila Weller

Sheila Weller is the author of The News Sorority. Full Bio

New Nonfiction: The News Sorority: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour—and the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News by Sheila Weller


The News You Give Begins with the News You’ve Lived

Diane, Christiane, Katie: 1969, 1997, 2000


  1. Pushing Past Grief: Diane, 1969


Twenty-three-year-old Diane Sawyer (she used her real first name, Lila, ironically, only in affectionate letters) was working as the first ever full-time female news reporter in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky—on WLKY, Channel 32—in mid-September 1969. She had been on the job for two years, and she—a Wellesley graduate and former beauty queen—was itching to leave for a bigger opportunity, in the nation’s capital. Still, Diane’s years at WLKY had not been uneventful. More…

New Nonfiction: The Shifts and the Shocks: What We’ve Learned—and Have Still to Learn—from the Financial Crisis by Martin Wolf

New Nonfiction: The Shifts and the Shocks: What We’ve Learned—and Have Still to Learn—from the Financial Crisis by Martin Wolf

Preface: Why I Wrote this Book 

Can ‘It’–a Great Depression–happen again? And if ‘It’ can happen why didn’t ‘It’ occur in the years since World War II? These are questions that naturally follow from both the historical record and the comparative success of the past thirty-five years. To answer these questions it is necessary to have an economic theory which makes great depressions one of the possible states in which our type of capitalist economy can find itself. –Hyman Minsky, 1982 (1)


This book is about the way in which the financial and economic crises that hit the high-income countries after August 2007 have altered our world. But its analysis is rooted in how these shocks originated in prior shifts–the interactions between changes in the global economy and the financial system. It asks how these disturbing events will–and should–change the ways we think about economics. It also asks how they will–and should–change the policies followed by the affected countries and the rest of the world. More…