1974: A Personal History

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About the Author

Francine Prose is the author of twenty-two works of fiction including the highly acclaimed The Vixen; Mister Monkey; the New York Times bestseller Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932; A Changed Man, which won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize; and Blue Angel, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her works of nonfiction include the highly praised Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, and the New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer, which has become a classic. The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim and a Fulbright, a Director's Fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, Prose is a former president of PEN American Center, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College.


"In this remarkable memoir, the qualities that have long distinguished Francine Prose's fiction and criticism--uncompromising intelligence, a gratifying aversion to sentiment, the citrus bite of irony--give rigor and, finally, an unexpected poignancy to an emotional, artistic, and political coming-of-age tale set in the 1970s--the decade, as she memorably puts it, when American youth realized that the changes that seemed possible in the 60s weren't going to happen. A fascinating and ultimately wrenching book." -- Daniel Mendelsohn, author of The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million

"Francine Prose's 1974: A Personal History is a reverberating account of a time--the point in the early 1970s when the revolutionary energy of the 1960s had been replaced by futility and paranoia--and of a character, Tony Russo, who exemplifies that time. The constraint of history and character gives the book a novelistic intensity and focus, with, as a bonus, a three-dimensional portrait of the author on the threshold of adulthood." -- Lucy Sante

"Through the prism of Vertigo, in a spellbinding memoir, Francine Prose resurrects her misbegotten San Francisco romance in 1974 with one of the two men who stole and published the Pentagon Papers, the one who went to prison for it, the one driven mad by the lies of Viet Nam. A hypnotic portrait of a lost time when people lived and died for the truth." -- John Guare, playwright, Six Degrees of Separation and A Free Man of Color

"A stunningly alive portrait of the artist as a young woman, set during that dizzying time when the hopeful love-fest of the '60s morphed into the murky violence of the '70s. Reporting from both coasts, Prose laser-focuses on her relationship with indicted Tony Russo who had helped leak the Pentagon papers, the outrageous Patty Hearst kidnapping, drugs, sex, and the omnipotent Vietnam war. A fascinating travelogue of the tremendous changes in both a country and a personality struggling to find their best selves. Heartbreaking, haunting and indelible." -- Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You and Days of Wonder

"Award-winning Prose writes her first memoir, setting it in the '70s and detailing her relationship with activist Anthony Russo, of the Pentagon Papers fame. She was in her 20s, driving around San Francisco at night, hearing his theories and stories, and forming herself as an artist--and coming of age in a radically changing world." -- Library Journal

"Francine Prose's sublime, haunting memoir shows us the Seventies in all its dizzying contradictions--the darkness and paranoia, the open roads and strange new connections. A world where some voices disintegrated, never to cohere again--while others - emerged, brilliant and searing, out of the calamity. Poignant, mesmerizing, profound--1974 offers revelations not just about the Seventies but about our world today." -- Danzy Senna, author of Caucasia and New People

"...deeply personal...revealing....Joyful and sad nostalgia offered up in spades." -- Kirkus Reviews

"In this wonderfully clear-sighted memoir Francine Prose catches a moment when idealism shifted and the world turned. 1974 is also a story about youth, risk and survival - a story women don't tell often enough, perhaps. Wise, achieved, entirely satisfying." -- Anne Enright, author of The Wren, the Wren