T.S. Eliot's best-known poem is The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, but his greatest is The Waste Land, for which was first published just over 100 years ago. It's a seminal work that intimidates all of us at first reading, even with excellent footnotes.
It's worth the effort to come to terms with The Waste Land's stature, and public humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson is ready to serve as a guide. The work has an intriguing origin story that involves superb editorial supervision by another great poet of the era, Ezra Pound. Jenkinson covers its creation, its enormous debt to previous literature from Dante to John Donne, and walks you through the poem in a way that helps reveal its creative strategies—and meaning.
Given the density of the The Waste Land, Jenkinson recommends reading it in the Norton Anthology of English Literature or the Norton Critical Edition. Have the text at hand and come with questions, comments, and puzzlements. This is one of the major poetic achievements the 20th century, one that every well-read American should read with care.