The Other Carl Sandburg


A portrait of the radical Sandburg before his days of glory in the pantheon of popular writers

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By Phillip R. Yannella
University Press of Mississippi

Carl Sandburg is most remembered as a biographer of Lincoln, as the author of such schoolroom poems as “Chicago” and “Fog,” and as a popular-culture hero who lent his name, fame, and homey charm to the political campaigns of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Adlai Stevenson, and John F. Kennedy.

One midcentury commentator called him America’s “cultural sweetheart.” Adlai Stevenson said that Sandburg was the “epitome” of the American dream.

Such is the traditional portrait.

However, there is another Sandburg, a figure who does not at all resemble the comfortable, comforting persona most of his readers recognize. During the first two decades of his long career, the “other” Carl Sandburg was deeply involved in left-wing politics. This eye-opening book affords a revealing look at that Sandburg. It throws an illuminating light on his involvement in the internal history of the American left, his association with Bolshevism and domestic politics of the Great War, and his hard-nosed, sometimes scurrilous journalism written under his own name and various pseudonyms during the intense class warfare of the years from 1915 to 1920.

This picture of the Sandburg few of us know is based on an extraordinary amount of research in government surveillance archives, in the Carl Sandburg Collection at the University of Illinois, and in labor histories, histories of American radicalism, and American literary history.

Additional information

Weight 16.3 oz
Dimensions 9.25 × 6.25 × 1 in



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