Carey McWilliams; The Case of the "Darwin-Marx" Letter, Lewis Feuer, and Encounter


  • Jean-Pierre Berlan
  • Ralph Colp, Jr.





It was with much sorrow that I learned of the death of Carey McWilliams. (Notes from the Editors, MR, September 1980). He was, as you said, an authentic American radical in the best sense of the term; and if you knew him well as an editor of The Nation, I think that you should have added, for the readers of Monthly Review, that he was a great writer. His books on the history of California (History of Southern California), of the Southwest (North From Mexico), on agriculture in California (Factories in the Field, which deserves the same fame as Grapes of Wrath), on agriculture (Ill Fares the Land) are in my opinion masterpieces of understanding of social and political developments. When I discovered Factories in the Field, I realized quickly that there was more theoretical depth in this book than in all the doctoral dissertations of the Department of Agricultural Economics of the University of California! It was so true that in the 1930s the book was burned in the countryside of California, libraries were forbidden to carry it, the author was threatened with the same fate as the "boll weevil," etc.