This first full-length account of this important American poet and the literary movement he helped foster is filled with revealing reminiscences from Ferlinghetti himself and dozens of his contemporaries, and it creates not only a portrait of an important artist but a vivid panorama of our time. Silesky tells the full story of Ferlinghetti's Dickensian, fantastical beginnings: given away at age two, trundled around Europe, put in an orphanage at six, retrieved and abandoned again, and finally adopted by a wealthy elderly couple who brought him to live on their estate and sent him to exclusive schools. Silesky then shows us how Larry Ferling emerged from his unusual early years to become, in his early thirties, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, publisher, poet, novelist, painter, and spokesman for an age. We witness Ferlinghetti's postwar stay in Paris; his move to San Francisco; his relationships with Kenneth Rexroth, Kenneth Patchen, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Neal Cassady; and his founding of City Lights, the bookstore and the press. We relive the exciting first days of a brand-new literary sensibility, the publishing of Ginsberg's Howl, and the obscenity case that made it a national sensation. From the early fifties to the sixties, he is at the center of explosive activity--a touchstone for literary and political movements, for the psychedelic sixties, and finally for the antiwar protests that spilled over into the early seventies. From the poignancy of Jack Kerouac's descent into alcoholism to the beauty of life in Big Sur to the upbeat cacophony of the San Francisco scene, Ferlinghetti's life parallels America's changing cultural and sexual mores. Wonderful anecdotes by or about Henry Miller, Ezra Pound, Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley, Fidel Castro, Gary Snyder, and many more prominent figures of recent history portray Ferlinghetti in his world. But the details of his first marriage, and the two women who have shared his life since, also depict a very private man, still vigorous in his seventh decade.--Adapted from book jacket.