In the fall of 1972, American Heritage ran an essay by Robert Penn Warren: “A Dearth of Heroes.” It was written as an introduction to the reissue of Dixon Wecter’s The Hero in America (1941), a history of hero-worship in our country. Warren, who uniquely held Pulitzers for both fiction and poetry, was famous. Wecter, who had been dead for twenty years, was largely forgotten. Warren probably never knew Wecter, but he liked his subject and wrote seven thousand words that blended praise for Wecter’s work with an indictment of his own sub-heroic America of the 1960s and 1970s. “No book,” wrote the author of All the King’s Men, “could be more relevant, more disturbingly relevant, to our national condition.” With the passage of yet another fifty years, The Hero in America...


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