Kaplan's biography begins with the poet buying a house in Camden, New Jersey in 1864 at the age of 65. He then goes back in time to tell of his youth, his time spent working for newspapers in Brooklyn and Long Island. He began work on the Long Island Patriot in 1831 when he was twelve. Later he spent some time as a young country school teacher.
Whitman's experiences during the Civil War, where he served as a nurse, are detailed as are the uses to which he put these experiences in his poetry. His reaction to the death of Lincoln is also discussed along with the great poems that he wrote after that death.
A great part of the book is devoted to Whitman's Leaves of Grass and the continual rewriting on revision that went on during the course of his life.
This report prepared by Jack Goodstein