John Dos Passos's literary response to Franklin Dela Roosevelt's New Deal, The Grand Design critiques the gargantuan growth of bureaucracy in Washington during the Great Depression and World War II. The satiric vel conveys the author's frustration with federal overreach and the hollow rhetoric that sells it to the people. War is a time of Caesars, writes Dos Passos as he laments the death of idealistic, intelligent enterprises at the desks of elitist administrators. After witnessing the Spanish Civil War claim so many well-intentioned men, he advises caution for America's New Dealers: Some things we have learned, but t eugh; there is more to learn. Today we must learn to found again in freedom our republic.
John Roderigo Dos Passos (1896 1970) was a writer, painter, and political activist. He wrote over forty books, including plays, poetry, novels, biographies, histories, and memoirs. He crafted over four hundred drawings, watercolors, and other artworks. Dos Passos considered himself foremost a writer of contemporary chronicles. He preferred the moniker of chronicler because he was happiest working at the edge of fiction and nonfiction. Both genres benefited from his mastery of observation his camera eye and his sense of historical context. Dos Passos sought to ground fiction in historic detail and working-class, realistic dialogue. He invented a multimedia format of songs, newsreels, biographies, third-person fictional narrative, and first-person semi-autobiographical narrative snapshots to convey the frenzy of America s industrialism and urbanism in the twentieth century. His most memorable fiction Three Soldiers (1921), Manhattan Transfer (1925), and the U.S.A. trilogy (1938) possesses the authority of history and the allure of myth. Likewise, he sought to vitalize nonfiction history and reportage with the colors, sounds, and smells documented on his journeys across the globe.