I found this work extremely entertaining. It was like being back in mid-19th century America. It seemed to make the era come alive with real personalities and real historical character. To understand the complexities of this genious and his time, this book is a must. It seemed to be refreshingly candid and forth-right without the usual bias one expects on the subject. There was much more to the man and his times than his sexuality. This book reveals the other sides of Walt Whitman. You can feel his pain with him as you share in his America
I'm a latecomer to Whitman's work, only really discovering it in my 40s. It was Reynold's book Beneath the American Renaissance that prodded me in this direction, and, naturally, I wanted to read his more complete take on Walt.
What stands out in this book is the way Reynolds weaves together not only Whitman's life but also the context of the period, which makes it so much easier to understand what Walt was saying. Reynolds is without doubt the best explainer of this period, as it applies to literature, and reading this book is both a pleasure and an enlightening experience, providing a history lesson at the same time as it looks at Whitman's writings.