Norman Mailer was born in Long Branch, New Jersey, and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. At the age of 16, he matriculated at Harvard University to study aeronautical engineering. After graduation, he was drafted into the army and served as an artilleryman in the Philippines, an experience that inspired his debut novel The Naked and the Dead. A gritty, realistic portrayal of the agonies of combat, the book resonated deeply with Americans in the years following World War II, topping the New York Times Bestseller list for eleven consecutive weeks and making Mailer a national celebrity. Critics hailed him as one of the great rising American writers of the post-war era.
Throughout his career, Mailer contributed more than thirty works of fiction and nonfiction to the American literary canon. Considered the innovator of the nonfiction novel, he received several prizes for his books, including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for The Armies of the Night, the National Book Award for nonfiction for Miami and the Siege of Chicago, and a second Pulitzer for The Executioner’s Song. In 1955 he co-founded The Village Voice; 50 years later, he won the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation. Mailer died in 2007.
Written in gritty, journalistic detail, the story follows a platoon of Marines who are stationed on the Japanese-held island of Anopopei. Composed in 1948 with the wisdom of a man twice Mailer's age and the raw courage of the young man he was, The Naked and the Dead is representative of the best in twentieth-century American writing.
Is the human species becoming dehumanized by the condition of his environment? So "Human an Animal "is an attempt to address this broad concern, and explain why so little is being done to address this issue. The book sounds both an urgent warning, and offers important policy insights into how this trend towards dehumanization can be halted and finally reversed. Dubos asserts that we are as much the product of our total environment as of our genetic endowment. In fact, the environment we live in can greatly enhance, or severely Hmit, the development of human potential. Yet we are deplorably ignorant of the effects of our surroundings on human life. We create conditions which can only thwart human nature.
So "Human an Animal "is a book with hope no less than alarm. As Joseph Wood Krutch noted at the time, Dubos shows convincingly "why science is indispensable, not omnipotent." Science'can change our suicidal course by learning to deal analytically with the living experience of human beings, by supplementing the knowledge of things and of the body machine with a science of human life. Only then can we give larger scope to human freedom by providing a rational basis for option and action. Timely, eloquent, and guided by a deep humanistic spirit, this new edition is graced by a succinct and careful outline of the life and work of the author.