Charles Reich's Journey from the Yale Law Journal to the New York Times Best-Seller List: The Personal History of the Greening of America
31 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2013 Last revised: 1 Nov 2013
Date Written: 2008
Let's return to 1970, when there were only three major network television stations and no cable programming; no Internet and therefore no online publications -- subscribers literally picked up and read their newspapers. In such relatively barren soil, the notion of a law professor who became famous exclusively for the book he wrote seems preposterous. Nevertheless, near the end of that year, Charles Reich, a respected Yale Law School professor, published The Greening of America (“The Greening”) -- first as a long article in the New Yorker then, in an expanded version, as a Random House book. To the surprise of everyone involved and despite mixed reviews, The Greening became a runaway best-seller and Reich became -- reluctantly -- a celebrity.
The story of the rise and fall of Reich and The Greening is, in part, a cautionary tale about the promise and perils of becoming a successful popular writer. The first three parts of this article recount the story of Reich and The Greening. In Part II, I set the stage with a brief summary of Reich's accomplished -- and conventional -- career and publications up to The Greening. In Part III, I tell the story of The Greening. In Part IV, I examine the backlash to The Greening, as evidenced by the negative reviews of The Sorcerer. In the Conclusion, I note that The Greening is still discussed today in the occasional -- usually derisive -- references to the book in popular writing. I conclude the article with a brief discussion of Reich's work after The Sorcerer and his thoughts on the perils and promise of his brush with popular success with The Greening.
Keywords: Charles Reich, The Greening of America, The Greening, Greening of America, Consciousness III, The Con III controversy, Citron, Rodger Citron
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