For more than a half a century, James Hart's Oxford Companion to American Literature has been a matchless guide through the myriad paths and byways of American literary culture. It has been revised regularly since its first publication in 1941, although Hart died in 1990, before he could complete this new edition. The experienced reference book editor Phillip Leininger has completed the revisions for the sixth edition of this classic work . Nearly 200 new entries range from major new literary talents (Don Delillo, Thomas Flanagan, William Kennedy, Cormac MacCarthy) to playwrights and theatre people (Harvey Fierstein, John Guare, Stephen Sondheim, August Wilson), and science fiction and popular authors (Raymond Carver, Stephen King, Harold Robbins, Theodore Sturgeon). Many more entries have been expanded to take account of work written since the publication of the last edition (Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike). Leininger has also endeavoured to widen the scope of the book by adding entries on women (M. F. K. Fisher, Ursula Le Guin, Bobbie Ann Mason, Gloria Steinhem), as well as African Americans, Native Americans, and other ethnic groups.
The Companions Chronological Index includes new literary and social notes that bring it right up to date. While there are a number of reference works dealing with American literature, none of them have the stature and authority of the Oxford Companion, a delight for both the casual browser and the serious student.