National Endowment of the Arts - The Big Read
Old School

Old School

by Tobias Wolff

There is a need in us for exactly what literature can give, which is a sense of who we areā€¦ a sense of the workings of what we used to call the soul.


The Life and Times of Tobias Wolff

1940s
Robert Frost wins Pulitzer Prize for poetry and Ayn Rand publishes The Fountainhead, 1943.
Tobias Wolff is born on June 19, 1945, in Birmingham, Alabama.
World War II ends, August 1945.
Viet Minh (the Vietnamese liberation movement) declares independence from France in 1945; French military forces resist the revolt in 1946, beginning an eight-year conflict.

1950s
Wolff, his mother, and his stepfather live in Washington State.
Ernest Hemingway wins the Nobel Prize in Literature, 1954.
The French are defeated at Dien Bien Phu in 1954; Vietnam is partitioned into North and South Vietnam.

1960s
John F. Kennedy elected U.S. President in 1960; assassinated on November 22, 1963.
Ernest Hemingway dies, 1961. Robert Frost dies, 1963.

1970s
The last U.S. combat troops withdraw from Vietnam, 1973.
Wolff earns a master's degree, marries, and publishes his first book, all in 1975.
Saigon falls to the North Vietnamese, 1975.

1980s
Wolff teaches at Syracuse University; he publishes a novella, two collections of stories, and his memoir This Boy's Life.
Ground is broken for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, 1982.
Ayn Rand dies, 1982.

1990s
Wolff begins teaching at Stanford; publishes his Vietnam memoir and his third volume of short stories.
The film version of This Boy's Life, starring Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Ellen Barkin, is released in 1993.
The U.S. restores diplomatic ties with Vietnam, 1995.

2000s
April 5, 2005, marks the thirtieth anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.
Wolff publishes Old School (2003) and Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories (2008).

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