Whitman was an important writer whose life force flowed through his work. This is such a tepid and dry book, it does not do him justice. There is so little humanity or warmth within its pages. Perhaps the writer found it too difficult, or politically/ sexually dangerous/compromising, to show greater feeling for the writer. In all events, what we have is a listing of Whitman's actions (with some very important details missing) which I really do not feel gives you any real insight into this complex author at all.
After reading Loving's book on Whitman it only enhanced my spirit to read and analyze more of this Poet's life and poetry. I decieded to write about Whitman in my class at college and used Loving's book as a research means together with other books form the university library. I feel as if I know more about good "Old Walt" then I do my own family. This was truly a good read. Enjoy!!!
As a probably a-typical reader (I've not read Whitman's poems very thoroughly or very recently), I was nonetheless very interested to read about his life in incredible detail. Loving chronicles Whitman's movements to and fro - professionally, geographically, and artistically. His ability to deliver the flavor of the era via exposition of the political and social issues is quite good, however, at the "juiciest" of moments you sometimes feel disappointed. For example, there is quite a bit written about Whitman's Free Soil politics vs. abolistionist and how that ultimately destroys his friendship with his stalwart supporter O'Connor. The information is conveyed -- but I feel that I am missing some of the passion -- of their relationship to begin with -- and then of the heated argument they reportedly had. Perhaps this information was unavailable. I could conclude that Loving did not wish to guess -- but on several occasions in the book he speculates freely and without tons of support. I guess I would have prefered more freedom to speculate by the scholar. Still - if the reader is seeking a landscape upon which to speculate this should indeed be ample.