Barney Grove Press and Barney Rosset, America’s Maverick Publisher and His Battle against Censorship By Michael Rosenthal

An impetuous outsider who delighted in confronting American hypocrisy and prudery, Barney Rosset liberated American culture from the constraints of Puritanism. As the head of Grove Press, he single-handedly broke down the laws against obscenity, changing forever the nature of writing and publishing in this country. He brought to the reading public the European avant-garde, among them Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter, radical political and literary voices such as Malcolm X, Che Guevara, and Jack Kerouac, steamy Victorian erotica, and banned writers such as D. H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, and William Burroughs. His almost mystical belief in the sacrosanct nature of the First Amendment essentially demarcates the before and after of American publishing.

Barney explores how Grove's landmark legal victories freed publishers to print what they wanted, and it traces Grove's central role in the countercultural ferment of the sixties and early seventies. Drawing on the Rosset papers at Columbia University and personal interviews with former Grove Press staff members, friends, and wives, it tells the fascinating story of this feisty, abrasive, visionary, and principled cultural revolutionary—a modern "Huckleberry Finn" according to Nobel Prize–winning novelist Kenzaburo Oe—who altered the reading habits of a nation.
SubtitleGrove Press and Barney Rosset, America’s Maverick Publisher and His Battle against Censorship
AuthorBy Michael Rosenthal
PublisherSkyhorse Publishing
ImprintArcade Publishing
Published7 March 2017
Dimensions5.50 x 8.25in.

About the author

Michael Rosenthal was the Roberta and William Campbell Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. A Guggenheim Fellowship winner, he was also awarded Columbia College's Alexander Hamilton Medal, its highest honor. The author of Virginia Woolf, The Character Factory: Baden-Powell's Boy Scouts and the Imperatives of Empire, and Nicholas Miraculous, The Amazing Career of the Redoubtable Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, he resides in New York City.

One of Maine Public Radio's Best & Overlooked Books of 2017

“Illuminating, insightful, and informative—a piquant portrait of a renegade publisher.” —Kirkus

"The book effectively describes Rosset’s successful legal battles against censorship, and Rosenthal illustrates his subject’s publishing philosophy with his decision to publish Samuel Beckett and William Burroughs to American audiences." —Publishers Weekly

"Michael Rosenthal, in taking a little-known and once-offensive publisher and turning insightful and witty attention to him, has bestowed a gift on readers everywhere."—Columbia Magazine

"Barney Rosset was one of the most important American cultural figures of the twentieth century. This marvelous book brilliantly captures his and our struggles to allow all Americans to read, hear and see what the Constitution demands. He, with much turbulence, anxiety, and pain, nearly alone broke the barriers of censorship.” —Martin Garbus, Esq.

"Setting up shop on the corner where the mid-century avant-garde met Victorian pornography, Barney Rosset helped crack wide open the staid world of American publishing. Michael Rosenthal's smart and candid biography beautifully captures the insatiable spirit of an oft unlovely but always intrepid literary daredevil."— Sean Wilentz, George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of History, Princeton University and author of Bob Dylan in America

“From the opening sentence of this marvelous, fleet, perfectly rendered portrait of Barney Rosset—the most important American book publisher of the twentieth century—to its last—in which its crusading, preposterous and triumphantly consequential subject is winsomely extolled by one writer as “a Tom Paine of the human brain”—Michael Rosenthal has created an elegant, clear-eyed, irresistibly readable account of the renegade publisher who tore himself, and the reading public, through the rusting gates of American Puritanism and censorship. Dashing, driven, self-absorbed, maddening— married five times and four times abandoned—Rosset was an American original. He was also from start to finish happily profligate with resources personal and financial in the pursuit of expanding the purview of the First Amendment. In this book, Rosenthal has done his subject and his readers a superb service.” —Ric Burns, documentary filmmaker

“Michael Rosenthal sequences interesting anecdotes by the hundred, and he’s good at tracing the nonstop, edge-of-frenzy, but sharp-minded publishing decisions Barney made while partying and living fun-loving life to its fullest.” —Ed Sanders, Grove Press author

“This slim but essential volume is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand the countercultural era and Postmodernism better, a solidly done portrait of a brilliant, often infuriating champion of subversion in all forms."” —Chicago Center for Literature and Photography

“[Michael Rosenthal] is expert at zooming in on the societal elements that make Barney Rosset and Grove Press’s story important . . . [He] is also pitch-perfect at demonstrating the underbelly of Rosset and Grove’s success, as well as that of the entire 1960s.” —Woodstock Times

"Inspiring...a colorful read peppered by episodes of hilarious irony in Rosset's business dealings and his life. Rosenthal also fills some of the gaps left by Rosset's own memoir."—Book-ish
ISBNs: 9781628726503 978-1-62872-650-3 Title: barney category:BIO ISBNs: 9781628726527 978-1-62872-652-7 Title: barney category:BIO 
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