The Complete Trilogy [The 42nd Parallel, 1919, and The Big Money]


This gorgeous new paperback edition collects the three volumes of John Dos Passos’s acclaimed U.S.A. trilogy, named one of the best books of the twentieth century by the Modern Library, and a “linguistically adventurous national portrait for a precarious age—his, and ours” (The New Yorker). 

The U.S.A. trilogy, comprised of the novels The 42nd Parallel, 1919, and The Big Money, is a grand, kaleidoscopic portrayal of a nation that buzzes with history and life on every page.

The 42nd Parallel unfolds in stories and “newsreels” consisting of front-page headlines and article fragments from the Chicago Tribune, revealing the lives and fortunes of five characters. Mac, Janey, Eleanor, Ward, and Charley are caught on the storm track of this parallel and blown New Yorkward. As their lives cross and double back again, the likes of Eugene Debs, Thomas Edison, and Andrew Carnegie also make appearances.

1919 opens to find America and the world at war, and Dos Passos’s characters, many of whom we met in the first volume, are thrown into the snarl. We follow the daughter of a Chicago minister, a wide-eyed Texas girl, a young poet, and a radical Jew, as well as the glimpses of the more famous Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Unknown Soldier.

The Big Money comes back to America after the war to find a nation on the upswing. Industrialism booms, the stock market surges, Lindbergh takes his solo flight, and Henry Ford makes automobiles. From New York to Hollywood, love affairs to business deals, it is a country taking the turns too fast, speeding toward the crash of 1929.

Employing a host of experimental devices that would inspire a whole new generation of writers to follow, Dos Passos captures the many textures, flavors, and background noises of modern life with a cinematic touch and unparalleled nerve.

About the author(s)

John Dos Passos (1896–1970) was a writer, painter, and political activist. His service as an ambulance driver in Europe at the end of World War I led him to write Three Soldiers in 1919, the first in a series of works that established him as one of the most prolific, inventive, and influential American writers of the twentieth century, writing over forty books, including plays, poetry, novels, biographies, histories, and memoirs. 


“[Dos Passos] remains one of the few first-rate figures among our writers of his generation, and the only one of these who has made a systematic effort to study all the aspects of America and to take account of all its elements, to compose them into a picture which makes some general sense. Most of the first-rate men of Dos Passos’s age—Hemingway, Wilder, Fitzgerald—cultivate their own little corners and do not confront the situation as a whole. Only Dos Passos has tried to take hold of it.” — Edmund Wilson 

“It is not simply that [Dos Passos] has a keen eye for people, but that he has a keen eye for so many different kinds of people.” — New York Times

"In a trilogy that took on an unsettled nations' discontents, Dos Passos delivered a magnum opus that stands apart from much of American fiction...unlike anything else ever written." — Wall Street Journal

"One of the most ambitious projects that an American novelist has ever undertaken.” — Time