Will Rogers and his America

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Born on a farm in the Cherokee Nation near present Oologah, Oklahoma, in 1879, Will Rogers shared his rural, agricultural beginnings with many Americans at the turn of the century. But Rogers brought his small-town talents to a national audience, becoming a mainstay of early American mass culture. Although Rogers is remembered today for his success in vaudeville and the nascent American film industry, history has largely forgotten his considerable influence as a political commentator, an aspect of Rogers’s life that Gary Clayton Anderson explores at length in this brief but complete biography.

Rogers’s contributions to early American mass culture, the catalog of powerful personages that he counted among his friends, and his extensive writings about the political issues of the day make Rogers an ideal figure through which to explore the American interwar period. High school and college students will relate well to Rogers, whose political opinions evolved as he gained exposure to people, places, organizations, and ideas beyond rural Oklahoma. Rogers’s conflicted relationship with his indigenous American heritage also provides a window on the history of race relations in America.