The U.S.A. Trilogy by John Dos Passos is comprised of three historical fiction novels – The 42nd Parallel, 1919, and The Big Money. Published in 1938, the style of the books is unique. In addition to fictional stories, the author incorporated sections titled Newsreel and The Camera Eye. The thought process behind these sections are lengthy and best described by experts in the novel’s Foreward. Had I not read it, I would not have understood the author’s use of them.
After reading these books over a long period of time, I understand why the trilogy is included in the Top 150 Novels list. Dos Passos is an excellent writer who vividly describes the times in which he lived. He captures the sentiment and suffering of the common man during the early 20th century. The novels also include portraits of famous people such as Henry Ford, Isadora Duncan, Lindbergh, Stalin, and many others.
Although the stories contained in these novels are on the depressing side, I believe they have historical merit because they illustrate what life was like during the era of great change, war, and ideological upheavals. The book collection preserves the thoughts and actions of the common men and women who toiled and fought and lived and died. The writing is superb. I recommend one or all of the trilogy if you have the time to read them.