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Walt Whitman's America:
The greatest American poet is portrayed in this monumental biography as an essential American, not an isolated mystic but a man formed in large measure by his rapidly changing society. Drawing on his diligent research, and on his experience writing the monumental work Beneath the American Renaissance, noted scholar David S. Reynolds conclusively demonstrates the profound impact the popular culture of his day had on Whitman's awakening as an artist. The fascinating and compelling story of Whitman's life vigorously illuminates how a schoolteacher turned journalist became the robust and exuberant man who changed literature and single-handedly created modern poetry. This copious (nearly 700 page) volume tells the story of 19th-century America as well as the story of the Whitman himself. [via]