Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

By the time that he completed The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens, this veteran journalist had nearly forty years of experience in writing for newspapers and magazines with wide public appeal. Steffens organized his autobiography in an uncomplicated and direct way in order to reach as many readers as possible. The book is divided into five parts that are, in turn, subdivided into compact chapters that emphasize action and character description. The text also reprints relevant portions of articles written by Steffens. There are several photographs of important people in Steffens’ life, including his parents, several of his journalist colleagues such as Jacob Riis, and powerful government leaders such as Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Venustiano Carranza, and V. I. Lenin.

The first four parts of The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens coincide with specific periods in the author’s life. For example, the section entitled “A Boy on Horseback” is a memoir of his youth in and around Sacramento, California, his college education at the University of California at Berkeley, and his postgraduate studies in Europe. “Seeing New York First” involves Steffens’ early work as a reporter, often in collaboration with Riis. He covered stories that involved the mighty and the meek—from interviews with Wall Street banker J. P. Morgan to conversations with the impoverished inhabitants of immigrant neighborhoods. In the third section,...

(The entire section is 410 words.)