|John Dos Passos was the illegitimate son of John Randolph Dos Passos, a New York corporate lawyer, and his mistress, Lucy Addison Sprigg Madison. He lived with his mother until his father was finally free to marry Ms. Madison in 1910, but Dos Passos enjoyed only a few years of conventional family life before his mother died in 1915. Dos Passos was educated at Harvard, where was a friend of e. e. cummings, Gilbert Seldes, and John Wheelwright. He graduated cum laude in 1916, and traveled extensively, especially in Spain where he briefly studied architecture. In 1917, his father's death brought him back to the U.S., where he confronted a massive debt and, living in New York City, he wrote to a friend: "Everyday I become more red." One year later he served in volunteer ambulance corps with Hemingway before being sent back to the U.S. for rowdy and insubordinate conduct. This experience produced two books; the most important was THREE SOLDIERS, a popular antiwar novel. He worked as a reporter after the war and published MANHATTAN TRANSFER in 1925, his first book to make a striking artistic statement as well as a social and political one. He wrote plays for the experimental theaters in New York during the late 1920s, adapting the conventions of film for the stage. In 1929 he married Kathy Smith, a childhood friend of Hemingway's. By expanding on the cinematic techniques, fragmented narrative style, and stream of consciousness prose that he had developed in previous work, his masterpiece, the trilogy U.S.A., (including THE 42ND PARALLEL in 1930, followed by 1919, and finally THE BIG MONEY in 1936) achieved a monumental panorama of the social, economic, personal, and political structures of America. U.S.A. was a caustic and ambitious polemic aimed at many targets and championing the American proletariat. It was the last of its kind. When Dos Passos lost a close friend to a Communist firing squad in the Spanish Civil War, his political sentiments changed radically, becoming increasingly conservative; as his faith in Communism withered, his hope for America strengthened. His next project was a trilogy titled DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (1952), in which naive and idealistic characters must repeatedly come to terms with their disillusionment. In the early 1960s he wrote MIDCENTURY, in which the collage techniques of U.S.A. are employed in a celebration of free enterprise and individualism, and in MR WILSON'S WAR he covers the same first quarter of the 20th century as in U.S.A., but from a radically different political point of view. Dos Passos was prolific throughout his later career, writing histories, letters, essays, travel diaries, biographies, and autobiographies. His reputation, however, for better or worse, will probably continue to parallel the reputation of U.S.A.