Study Guide

Carl Sandburg, Yes

by William Garland Rogers

Carl Sandburg, Yes Essay - Critical Context

Critical Context

Rogers’ study was warmly received by reviewers of Booklist and Library Journal, among other periodicals. The biography was especially commended for its sense of accuracy—liberally quoting, as it does, from Sandburg’s autobiography and from his other writings.

Rogers depicts Sandburg as, among other things, a perennial radical—first a populist, later a socialist—and a person somewhat acquainted with Marxist doctrine. Also mentioned, however, is the fact that Sandburg knew no less than five American presidents: Herbert Hoover, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson. In this light, Sandburg seemed—to many impatient young radicals of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, when Rogers’ book was published—stuffy, old-fashioned, and representing a kind of fraudulent radicalism. In retrospect, however, it is evident that these two epochal and radical ideologies of the Left had much in common. Furthermore, the divergence between the two movements probably speaks well, not of the disaffected 1960’s, but of Sandburg and his generation.