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First-Person America, by Ann Banks. New York: Random House. 263 pp. $5.95.Skip to next paragraph
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During the Depression, a New Deal program called the Federal Writers' Project recorded the reflections and life stories of Americans who aren't ordinarily included in the history books. Scores of writers, among them Ralph Ellison, John Cheever, and Saul Bellow, knocked on the doors of factory workers, vegetable peddlers, and other working-class citizens and wrote down what they had to say.When funds for the project were cut off shortly before World War II, the hundreds of unpublished interviews lay dormant in archives for some 40 years. This book presents a riveting collection of many of the best.