Jack London

A Writer's Fight for a Better America

By Cecelia Tichi

Jack London

296 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 33 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-3605-4
    Published: August 2017

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Jack London (1876-1916) found fame with his wolf-dog tales and sagas of the frozen North, but Cecelia Tichi challenges the long-standing view of London as merely a mass-market producer of potboilers. A onetime child laborer, London led a life of poverty in the Gilded Age before rising to worldwide acclaim for stories, novels, and essays designed to hasten the social, economic, and political advance of America. In this major reinterpretation of London’s career, Tichi examines how the beloved writer leveraged his written words as a force for the future.

Tracing the arc of London's work from the late 1800s through the 1910s, Tichi profiles the writer's allies and adversaries in the cities, on the factory floor, inside prison walls, and in the farmlands. Thoroughly exploring London's importance as an artist and as a political and public figure, Tichi brings to life a man who merits recognition as one of America’s foremost public intellectuals.

The enhanced e-book edition of Jack London features significant archival motion picture footage.

About the Author

Cecelia Tichi is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English and professor of American studies at Vanderbilt University. She is author of Civic Passions, Exposés and Excess, and Embodiment of a Nation.
For more information about Cecelia Tichi, visit the Author Page.


"[A] persuasive reappraisal of Jack London. . . . Brings a fresh perspective to an author and thinker frequently dismissed as a mere writer of adventure fiction."--Publishers Weekly

"Strongly recommended for London devotees and for anyone with an interest in the evolution of social reforms in America."--Library Journal

"An illuminating study of a literary figure long receded into stereotype. . . . A fruitful, well-written blend of cultural history, literary criticism, and biography."--Kirkus Reviews

"London steps from Tichi’s pages as a self-educated intellectual absorbed by the plight of the downtrodden and the oppressed."--Foreword Reviews

“Tichi’s reframing of London offers a significant rethinking of early twentieth-century America.”--American Historical Review

"Tichi paints a portrait of Jack London as a champion of progressive causes."--Chapter 16

Multimedia & Links

Listen: Tichi talks to Uprising with Sonali about London's politics. (9/24/2015, running time 21:11)