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Review Of Russell Baker's Growing Up

1613 words - 6 pages

Review of Russell Baker's Growing Up
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Autobiographical works tell a story of their authors by compiling
antic dotes and accolades. Most autobiographies are that of famous
authors or other celebrities and provide a synopsis of life according
to them. Russell Baker's autobiography, Growing Up, achieves all these
things as well, but, it does more than just tell of his life. As
American citizens, history is a big part of our identity not only as
Americans, but as individuals. Russell Baker lived through a
depression, a world war, Utopia, a sexual revolution, and a lost cause
conflict, among other things. If one were to study either the Great
Depression or the Second World War, Russell Baker's autobiography
would prove to be a valuable resource. Baker's autobiography provides
a screen through which readers can view historical events in American
history through one boy's eyes.

As a newspaper columnist, Russell Baker has the ability to recall
newsworthy events and tell of them in a professional, telling fashion.
Early on in the book, Russell discusses his career as a magazine
salesman and a newspaper delivery boy. It is hard to believe that
Baker does not believe in some way these careers he had as a young boy
did not shape his character. These two careers also provided him with
a chance to read about events before anyone else did and thus recall
these moments in time with a more focused image than most people of
his generation. His strong aptitude for writing coupled with his early
career induced knowledge of historical events provides an
autobiography of not only a man, but an era. The era in which these
careers emanated from was the Great Depression. Baker tells of his
family's struggles and really provides the reader great understanding
by recalling exact prices and so forth. He tells of a time when his
stern and proud mother gave in to relief. This was what the program of
government hand outs of food was known as. Relief was seen as a
shameful thing to rely on and tells of this relief candidly as well as
matter-of-factly,

"Pulling the wagon back toward Lombard Street, with Doris following
behind to keep the edible proof of our disgrace from falling off, I
knew my mother was far worse of than I'd suspected. She'd never accept
such shame otherwise. I studied her as she walked along beside me,
head high as always, not a bit bowed in disgrace, moving at her usual
quick, hurry-up pace. If she'd given up on life, she didn't show it,
but on the other hand she was unhappy about something. I dared to
mention the dreaded words only once on that trip home." (Baker, 1982,
158).

Later in the same chapter, Baker discusses the suit that was financed
for his entrance into manhood due to the miniscule budget his family
existed under, as well as a bike that was bought...

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