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This book is part of our history, one that has slipped from memory in the passage of time. The story of Nick Coleman, one of his generations most inspired leaders, while overdue, is still worth telling, and surely it carries important lessons for us now. Walter F. Mondale

In January 1973, Nick Coleman became the fi rst Democrat in 114 years to lead the majority in the Minnesota Senate. He provided the vision and leadership required to enact the Minnesota equivalent of Lyndon Johnsons social and economic programs known as the Great Society. This was the high tide of liberal politics in Minnesota, the crest in voter support that also sent Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, and Walter Mondale to national prominence.

For the Good of the Order chronicles Nick Colemans role in the legislative cauldron that resulted in Minnesota being recognized throughout the country as the state that works. Despite spirited political challenges, these remarkable achievements resulted from genuine collaboration from both sides of the aisle. Moreover, the debate over these initiatives helped raise Minnesotas legislative branch to coequal status with the executive. Sadly, they also marked the beginning of the demise of civility, respect, and compromise among lawmakers.

Coleman was an Irish-American, and proud of his heritage. His talent for leadership was surely enhanced by his Celtic wit and view of the world. No caricature of the Irish pol, however, Coleman used his verbal gifts and charm to offer reasons why a hesitant colleague could safely follow him when votes were needed for controversial bills. He led from the front, especially when debate was most intense, and unfl inchingly took the fi ercest fi re from adversaries. When Nick Coleman left the political arena in 1981, a wave of conservatism was sweeping the country. Since his departure, much of the agenda Coleman fought so hard to accomplish has been diluted or reversed. Nevertheless, his legacy remains an inspiration to all who believe that a society should be judged by how it treats its weakest and least powerful. Perhaps Hubert Humphrey voiced this belief most succinctly when he said, ...the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life: the sick, the needy and the handicapped.

Those were the people Nick Coleman fought forand never forgot.
John W. Aldridge is one of the few young critics of importance to appear on the literary scene since World War II. In AFTER THE LOST GENERATION he discusses with acumen and discernment the most important works of the young post-war writers of the Forties—Norman Mailer, Irwin Shaw, John Horne Burns, Truman Capote, Gore Vidal, Paul Bowles, Alfred Hayes and others.

Aldridge discusses three writers of the 1920’s—Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, and F. Scott Fitzgerald—to introduce the writers of World War II. He draws significant parallels between the work of the two generations—between Hemingway and Hayes, between Fitzgerald and Burns, between Bowles and Hemingway, and between the “lost generation” of the Twenties and the “illusionless lads of the Forties.” More important than the likenesses between the two generations are the new developments. Norman Mailer and Irwin Shaw wrote enormous “encyclopedic” war novels which covered whole armies and had settings in a dozen different lands. John Horne Burns sought relief from the chaos of modernity in Italian culture and Old World tradition. Truman Capote dealt essentially with abnormalities and peculiarities in human nature. Anti-Semitism, the Negro problem, and homosexuality appear time and again in the new writing. The old themes with which Hemingway and Fitzgerald shattered Victorian patterns—sex, drinking, the brutalities of war—are no longer shocking.

AFTER THE LOST GENERATION is a penetrating analysis of post-war fiction that already has provoked wide controversy and discussion.

“A pioneer study...The first serious and challenging book about the new novelists.”—Malcolm Cowley, New York Herald Tribune
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