Eugene Field (1850-95) is perhaps best remembered for his children's verse, especially "Little Boy Blue" and "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod." During his journalistic career, however, his column, "Sharps and Flats," in the Chicago Daily News illuminated the shenanigans of local and national politics, captured the excitement of baseball, and praised the cultural scene of Chicago and the West over that of the East Coast and Europe. Field used whimsy, satire, and, at times, unadorned admiration to depict and encapsulate the energy of a young nation reinventing itself and its political ambitions in the closing decades of the nineteenth century. Foremost, Field was a political observer. During his lifetime politics saw more public awareness and involvement than at any other time in American history, and Field's great popularity derived mainly from his near-ceaseless commentary-arch, outlandish, comic, serious-on that arena of affairs. Field also devoted many columns to entertainment and diversions, discussing the baseball "idiocy" that stormed Chicago and championing and criticizing authors and actors.
Lewis O. Saum is a professor emeritus of history at the University of Washington. His books include The Popular Mood of America, 1860-1890.
Contents: Acknowledgments A Brief Field Chronology Introduction1 1. The West 2. Politics in Missouri 3. Politics in the Nation 4. Ball Games 5. Theater 6. The Literary Arena Epilogue Notes Bibliography Index