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The Benchley Roundup: A Selection by Nathaniel Benchley of His Favorites

by Robert Benchley Nathaniel Benchley

Foreword ONE time, during the recent war, an Air Force sergeant accosted Robert Benchley in a bar and, with little or no preamble, said, "I might as well tell you that I don't like your work." Benchley replied that he had moments of doubt himself, and the sergeant then explained that he had hitched a ride from Africa to Italy on a cargo plane, and that the only available sleeping space had been on bags that were full of overseas editions of Benchley's books. By the time they passed Sicily, the man said, he was so stiff and sore that he hoped never to hear the name Benchley again. "Try it yourself sometime," he concluded. "That stuff isn't funny when you have to sleep on it." In somewhat the same way, I would suggest that The Benchley Roundup be read piecemeal rather than in one lump-picked up and put down as though you were waiting for a telephone call, or for guests to arrive-because, after all, the pieces had their original appeal as separate entities. In making my selection from about a thousand previously published pieces, I read in fits and starts over a long period of time. Many people have tried to analyze Robert Benchley's particular form of humor, and I would be the last one to add my tiny voice to that of the throng, because I don't think it can be analyzed. It is sometimes mad, sometimes penetrating, and sometimes based on nothing more than word associations, and the only generalization that can be made with any degree of certainty is that it is different- or, if you will, unique. So let's just leave it that the humorous pieces collected here, written between 1915 and 1945, are those which seem to stand up best over the years. There were some that were much admired when they first appeared, but were based on premises that now seem a little soft; others were glorious in part but evaporated when taken as a whole; and all these have been left out in an attempt to select the most durable. Another compiler might have picked an entirely different group, but that would have been his worry. These are the ones that I like best, and beyond that there isn't much more I ought to say. -Nathaniel Benchley

George the Drummer Boy

by Nathaniel Benchley

More than two hundred years ago, Boston belonged to the British. George was a drummer boy with the King's soldiers there. He wanted to be friends with the people of Boston. But they did not like the soldiers. They shouted and threw things at them. One night, George and the other soldiers were sent on a secret mission. They crossed the river and headed toward Concord. George had no idea that this was the start of the American Revolution. In this I Can Read Book, Don Bolognese's vibrant pictures capture the drama and humor of Nathaniel Benchley's exciting story.

Only Earth and Sky Last Forever

by Nathaniel Benchley

Young Dark Elk understood Crazy Horse's words. Brought up at a U.S. Government agency, he saw his people humiliated and impoverished as the white men's promises were broken. Yearning to live free and unshackled on the remaining Indian land, Dark Elk wanted only to prove himself a warrior and win Lashuka, the girl he loved. But when the white man invaded the Black Hills, another promise of freedom was broken. There could be no other choice for Dark Elk but to join Crazy Horse and fight for a future for himself and Lashuka.

Sam the Minuteman (An I Can Read Book)

by Nathaniel Benchley

"Get your gun" Sam's father said. "The British soldiers are coming this way "Sam's father was a Minuteman. Sam was ready in a minute. Father and son rushed to the village green. Other Minutemen were already there.

Small Wolf (An I Can Read Book)

by Nathaniel Benchley

A young Native American boy sets out to hunt on Manhattan Island and discovers some strange people with white faces and very different ideas about land. As the author notes: Although this story is about Manhattan, Small Wolf and his father could be any of the American Indians who were displaced from their homes and hunting grounds by the white men.

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