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More About This Title Mania


By the time Lucien Carr stabbed David Kammerer to death on the banks of the Hudson River in August 1944, it was clear that the hard-partying teenage companion to Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, and William S. Burroughs might need to reevaluate his life. A two-year stint in a reformatory straightened out the wayward youth but did little to curb the wild ways of his friends.

MANIA tells the story of this remarkable group—who strained against the conformity of postwar America, who experimented with drink, drugs, sex, jazz, and literature, and who yearned to be heard, to remake art and society in their own libertine image. What is more remarkable than the manic lives they led is that they succeeded—remaking their own generation and inspiring the ones that followed. From the breakthrough success of Kerouac's On the Road to the controversy of Ginsberg's Howl and Burroughs' Naked Lunch, the counterculture was about to go mainstream for the first time, and America would never be the same again.

Based on more than eight years' writing and research, Ronald Collins and David Skover—authors of the highly acclaimed The Trials of Lenny Bruce (2002, 2012)—bring the stories of these artists, hipsters, hustlers, and maniacs to life in a dramatic, fast-paced, and often darkly comic narrative.


Ron Collins and David Skover are friends. Ron lives in the East, David in the West. They have been writing together for almost three decades. Their work is a joint effort, with David manning the keys and Ron pacing.

They have coauthored four books together, The Death of Discourse (1996, 2005), The Trials of Lenny Bruce (2002, 2012), Mania (2013), and On Dissent (2013).

Ron, who grew up in Southern California and graduated from the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, is the Harold S. Shefelman Scholar at the University of Washington Law School. David, who grew up in Wisconsin and earned his law degree from Yale, is the Fredric C. Tausend Professor of Constitutional Law at Seattle University. Both have written numerous scholarly articles (often together) in journals such as the Harvard Law Review, Stanford Law Review, and in the Supreme Court Review.


Note to the Reader

Part I: The Chase (chs. 1-10)
Part II: The Asylum (chs. 11-24)
Part III: The Poem & Prosecution (chs. 25-31)
Part IV: The Trial & Tribulation (chs. 32-47)
Epilogue: Legacy

Appendix: People v. Ferlinghetti (1957)


"Collins and Skover offer a vivid retelling...those in search of a good story and the raw, compelling 'feel' for the mindset and actions of the Beats will be rewarded....The madcap, savage world of the Beats is laid out in spades." —Publishers Weekly

"A balanced history—sometimes admiring, sometimes blistering—of the writers who fractured the glass capsule of literary conformity." —Kirkus Reviews

"Stunning, disturbing, and remarkably intimate....With MANIA, Collins and Skover provide readers with a rare close-up of the lives, the loves, the trials, and the tribulations of a handful of rebels who forged new cultural ground. It is likely this book will help assure that the key figures of the Beat Generation will not soon be forgotten." —ForeWord Reviews

"MANIA is a stunning and chilling portrait of rebellious youth gone mad. The story descends into a netherworld of heroes and antiheroes, killers and creators, junkies and geniuses. Collins and Skover, through a thrilling narrative and unprecedented research, reveal how a misfit band of brothers, dreamers, and vagabonds broke old ties, abandoned families, and lived by their own rules to concoct an ecstatic and uninhibited vision of literary modernism. From the macabre killing that opens the book to the grand free speech victory at its climax, MANIA is both a celebratory and cautionary tale of American revolt. A remarkable achievement!" —James L. Swanson, New York Times bestselling author of Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer

"Ron Collins and David M. Skover's MANIA is the Outlaw Manifesto of the Cold War era. Wild-eyed and high-octane capers by Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg are told here with vivid freshness. Kick out the doorjambs and read the rollick. A fine rollercoaster of a literary ride." —Douglas Brinkley, bestselling author and editor of Jack Kerouac: Windblown World

"[Collins and Skover] have put together the most comprehensively researched account that I have seen of the apprentice years of the Beat writers. Their book will become the go-to account of the composition of their key works, the groundbreaking legal issues that resulted, and their continuing cultural aftermath." —Matt Theado, author of Understanding Jack Kerouac and The Beats, and keynote speaker at the 2007 Kerouac Conference