We are posting recommendations of books by our sponsor, Eight Cousins bookstore in Falmouth. This week’s book is “The Shores of Bohemia: A Cape Cod Story 1910-1960” by John Taylor Williams.
An intimate portrait of a legendary generation of artists, writers, activists, and dreamers who created a utopia on the shores of Cape Cod during the first half of the twentieth century.
Their names are iconic: Eugene O’Neill, Willem de Kooning, Josef and Annie Albers, Emma Goldman, Mary McCarthy, Edward Hopper, Walter Gropius—and the list goes on and on. Scorning the devastation that industrialization had wrought on the nation’s economy and culture in the early decades of the twentieth century, they gathered in the streets of Greenwich Village and on the beachfronts of Cape Cod. They began as progressives but soon turned to socialism, then communism. They founded theaters, periodicals, and art schools. They formed editorial boards that met in beach shacks and performed radical new plays in a shanty on the docks where they could see the ocean through cracks in the floor. They welcomed the tremendous wave of talent fleeing Europe in the 1930s. At the end of their era, as the postwar economy boomed, they took shelter in liberalism as the anti-capitalist movement fragmented into other causes in the 1960’s.
John Taylor “Ike” Williams, who married into the Cape’s artistic world and has spent fifty years talking and walking its shores with these cultural and political revolutionaries, gives us the twisting lives and careers of a staggering generation of American thinkers and creators. The Shores of Bohemia records a great set of shifts in American culture, of ideas and arguments fueled by drink, infidelity, and competition that made for a fifty-year conversation among intellectual leaders and creative revolutionaries, who found a community as they created some of the great works of the American century. This is their story. Welcome to the party!
About the Author
John Taylor “Ike” Williams is a founder of the literary agency Kneerim & Williams and a lawyer specializing in intellectual property and first amendment litigation. He is the coauthor of the widely used Perle, Williams & Fischer on Publishing Law. Williams has served as chair of the National Endowment for the Arts awards panel and as a Trustee of the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, among other positions. He lives in Cambridge and Wellfleet, Massachusetts.
“The Shores of Bohemia, not only explores the unreliable boundaries between the local and the global, it marks, as well, the various intersections of historical event, human mysteries, and pure magic.” —Michael Cunningham, author of The Snow Queen
“This wonderful book utterly beguiled me. On the surface, it is about a small portion of Cape Cod, the three final towns: Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown. Yet it is about much more than that, and tells a beautiful story about friendship and creativity at the height of the American Century.” —Ted Widmer, author of Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington
“[A] longtime Cape Cod resident, Williams draws on personal interviews, memoirs, biographies, and cultural histories to create a generous, commodious portrait of the communities of artists and writers who flourished on the Cape from 1910 to 1960 . . . An intimate view of creative lives in turbulent times.” —Kirkus Reviews
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