Part of Our Time was first published in 1955, when Murray Kempton was contributing a fresh, personal, novelistic style of writing about current events and characters three times a week in the columns of the New York Post. Kempton called the ten chapters of this book 'a series of novellas which happen to be about real persons' - people who were, like Kempton himself, swept up in the passions of their times and became radicalized; people like Alger Hiss, Paul Robeson, the writers of the Hollywood Ten and all those during that decade, from Ivy League students to dockworkers, poets to grape pickers, who created 'the myth of the nineteen thirties.' Kempton is concerned with the committed minority who wanted to count and be counted, who could not live on the sidelines. Known for his compassion for the underdog and the defeated, Kempton had a special feeling for the 'ruins' as well as the 'monuments' he writes about, for he too was caught up in the myth of his time. He was briefly a member of the Young Communist League and thereafter joined the Socialist Party.
He makes clear that he is not the objective journalistic observer but that 'the eye which I bring to this inquiry is neither as cold nor as detached as I might wish it to be.'
"A valuable and entertaining text on the destruction of the radical left in American politics"
-- Russell Baker
"He was free of the woeful predictability of ideologues of both the left and the right."
-- Elizabeth Hardwick
"In presenting his segments of history Kempton uses the technique of the novelist--and it comes off brilliantly. He succeeds in evoking the characters of the men and women he writes about, and he does what only the good novelist can do: he re-creates the atmosphere of the time in which they functioned and so forces the reader to inhabit a world which may be alien, dimly recalled, or long forgotten."
-- The Nation
"Kempton's book is exceedingly well written. It holds us in some places with a pathos of futility and in others with a drama of achievement....He does much to set in perspective an episode and a period that has been long distorted. The richness and pungency of his style make him easy to read."
-- The New York Times
One of our finest journalists, Kempton was always something of a cult writer, revered by his peers but lacking the profile of a Jimmy Breslin or Garry Wills. A tabloid columnist who looked like a classics professor (he was rarely without his pipe), Kempton--first at the New York Post, then at Newsday--forged one of the most distinct, if not eccentric, styles in American journalism....His column always promised a strange, pleasurable experience: Pungent yet decorous, invariably teeming with rogues and scoundrels, corrupt pols and indicted capos, Kempton's pieces often read like a Damon Runyon sketch rewritten by a Victorian man of letters.
Series: New York Review Books Classics
Number Of Pages: 456
Published: 31st May 2004
Publisher: The New York Review of Books, Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 20.4 x 13.2
Weight (kg): 0.37
Edition Number: 1