Scott Donaldson (in collaboration with R. H. Winnick) Archibald MacLeish: An American Life.
A Peter Davison Book/ Houghton Mifflin, 622 pages, $35
reviewed by Jeffrey Meyers
MacLeish died in 1982, a few days before his ninetieth birthday, laden with honors. His Collected Poems (1952) had won the Bollingen Prize, the National Book Award, the Shelley Memorial Award, and his second Pulitzer Prize. He went on to win a third Pulitzer, to become secretary of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, to accumulate dozens of medallions and decorations (both domestic and foreign), and to harvest enough honorary degrees, with academic hoods, to supply a whole Benedictine monastery. If Anne Sexton was the Judy Garland of American poetry—volatile, tasteless, self-destructive—MacLeish was its Eleanor Roosevelt, famous, as he self-reflectively said of his friend Mark Van Doren, for his goodness, his...