Saturday, January 04, 2014

Garet Garrett; Unsanctioned Voice; Bruce Ramsey

I have just started reading Unsanctioned Voice, Bruce Ramsey's 2008 biography of Garet Garrett.

Bruce Ramsey is America's leading expert on Garet Garrett, having edited three collections of Garrett's writings: Salvos Against the New Deal, Defend America First and Insatiable Government. Ramsey's foreward to Salvo's first alerted me to the existence of the Garrett novels. Ramsey helped me to locate these novels in the back editions of The Saturday Evening Post. When Satan's Bushel could not be found there, Ramsey remembered that Satan's Bushel had, instead, appeared in Country Gentleman, an epiphany that led not only to my discovery of Satan's Bushel, but to the Pennsylvania State Library's rediscovery of its lost microfilm copies of Country Gentleman. (That story is recounted here.)

I do not expect to "live blog" this book as I have done for the novels. The novels were out-of-print relics at the time I started this blog - with limited availability for most readers. Unsanctioned Voice (like the novels at this time) is available to all. But I will make note of significant facts that pop up as I read it. I will try to do this especially where those facts have a direct bearing on something I have already written at this blog.

The "Writer's Note" at the beginning provides great insight into the process that is required to research a biography. Ramsey based his book on Garrett's published works, including newspaper articles and unsigned editorials, interviews with those who knew him and his family, a partial diary, personal correspondence, items from the biographies of his contemporaries and information from the curators of the estates of those contemporaries as well as clues that he hunted with diligent detective work (a passport photo, a royalty payment, similar phrases in his signed and unsigned writing, etc.). Even with all of this work and research, Ramsey feels that there is not enough information for a complete biography.

One item that is intriguing is the list of memoirs and biographies that mention Garrett. (p. xii). These books include the biography of Bernard Baruch that I quoted here and here. I look forward to Ramsey's elaboration of these relationships.

The "Writer's Note" also makes reference (p. ix) to Profit's Prophet, a 1989 book that analyzes Garrett's writings.

Click here for a discussion of Chapters 1 and 2.

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