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Howard Fast


Nov. 11, 1914 - Mar. 12, 2003

obituaries:
  Adam Bernstein, Washington Post
  Eric Homberger, The Guardian
  Mervyn Rothstein, New York Times
  Daniel Gavron, Haaretz
  Ilya Baranikas, Moscow News
  Michael Bonski, Boston Phoenix
  William F. Buckley, Jr., National Review

Hope for the Heart and Food for the Soul:
Historical Fiction in the Life of Howard Fast

by SARAH CUTHBERTSON   (Solander)
"Howard Fast died during the writing of this article, at the venerable age of 88. Thereby, I offer it here as a tribute, though not an entirely uncritical one, to the memory of a much-loved author."

Maxine Gomberg photo

New biography of Howard Fast - 2012:
Life and Literature in the Fast Lane
by Gerald Sorin

 


$2.00 in 1933
Howard Fast's Two Valleys, was published by The Dial Press in 1933, when he was 19, at a cover price of $2. Seventy years later, as the first published book of a world-famous author, it could command over $500 for a copy in fine condition. Fast said that was more than he ever received for it in royalties*.

Howard Fast's last published novel was Greenwich (he lived in Greenwich, Connecticut in his later years), which appeared from Harcourt in April, 2000... a literary career spanning 67 years! (The hardcover first edition had a cover price of $25.00. Paperback copies are available online today for under $1... "last novels" are not as collectable.)


$25.00 in 2000


But it is for his earlier works of historical fiction, especially those dealing with the American Revolution, that he has received the greatest acclaim. Among his best-loved novels are:

The Last Frontier (1941)

The Unvanquished (1942)

Citizen Tom Paine (1943)

Freedom Road (1944)

My Glorious Brothers (1948)

Spartacus (1951)

 
Bibliophile Pages

Titles marked with the open book are Bibliophile Pages, in which books are treated in greater detail than in the bibliography listing, especially with regard to editions, but also with the inclusion of texts, links, reviews, illustrations, etc. Pages are dedicated to single titles. Images can be enlarged by clicking.

an eyewitness account...
Peekskill U.S.A. (1951)

As an author-publisher, during the blacklist

The Blue Heron Press (1952-56)


 
The Immigrants Series

Howard Fast was a well-known name in the 1940s, when he was a best-selling author and controversial public figure. He is known to readers of a later generation for his best-selling Lavette family saga, which was made into a television mini-series, "The Immigrants", in 1978, directed by Alan J. Levi. The fifth volume, The Immigrant's Daughter, published in 1981, was "the triumphant conclusion of the Lavette Saga".

The Immigrants
1977

Second Generation
1978

The Establishment
1979

The Legacy
1981

The Immigrant's Daughter
1985
Twelve years later, in 1997, Fast wrote a further conclusion, An Independent Woman.


 
The Masao Masuto Mysteries
by
E.V. Cunningham

Howard Fast wrote mysteries as E.V. Cunningham, including this series of seven starring Masao Masuto, a nisei detective with the Beverly Hills Police Department... devotee of rose cultivation and Zen meditation...

The Case of the...

Angry
Actress

One-Penny
Orange

Russian
Diplomat

Poisoned
Eclairs

Sliding
Pool

Kidnapped
Angel

Murdered
Mackenzie


E.V. Cunningham's
Women

Between 1960 and 1973, Howard Fast published a dozen suspense-mystery novels under the pseudonym E.V. Cunningham, with titles which were women's names:


Sylvia

1960

Phyllis

1962

Alice

1963

Lydia

1964

Shirley

1964

Penelope

1965

Helen

1966

Margie

1966

Sally

1967

Samantha

1967

Cynthia

1968

Millie

1973


 

   When I was a boy, I developed a passion for Howard Fast's novels, and read all I could find in my school library. Then, one day, I no longer found his books. Fast was blacklisted for being a member of the American Communist Party...

"...in May 1952 The New York Times reported intimidation of librarians across the nation by Legionnaires, by Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution, by Minutemen in Texas and California. School texts showing city slums, UNESCO material, all books by such threats to the free world as Howard Fast were purged from school libraries."   (Victor Navasky, "The Social Costs," in Naming Names, Viking Press, New York, 1980)

Citizen Tom Paine, formerly used as a school text, was banned from use in NYC schools. In 1956 Fast broke with the Communist Party, and published his rationale in 1957 as The Naked God. His 1990 memoir Being Red goes more deeply into the issue.

Bibliography
   Using my own extensive collection, various on-line libraries, and book-dealer links, I have compiled (actually, always in progress) a comprehensive bibliography of his works, including various editions, foreign language editions, articles, uncollected stories, films made from his works, etc.
Clicking on the main title of a book displays the text (blurb) of the original book jacket; clicking on a title in the title index moves to that entry in the main list.

Full texts
    Many texts of entire stories and articles can be accessed by clicking on the title, including items from the '40s and '50s which don't appear in any collections. Here you can find the entire text of his first published story, Wrath of the Purple, which appeared in Amazing Stories magazine in October of 1932, and which was never reprinted. You can read Fast's angry responses to the injustices of the McCarthy era, in his own Crisis Papers (1951), modeled after those of Tom Paine: Crisis No. 1, Crisis No. 2, Crisis No.3, his call to march in May Day - 1951, his poetic eulogy, Never to Forget: The Battle of the Warsaw Ghetto, as well as pamphlets, journal articles, and columns he wrote for the Daily Worker, Masses & Mainstream, and other radical publications... Now, all of Fast's New Masses (Nov.'43 - Sept.'47) and Masses & Mainstream (June '48 - April '57) articles and stories are online. And the complete 21,000-word text of Fast's wartime (1944) Tito and his People -- like the other texts here online, a difficult-to-find document, seldom seen in libraries. A fascinating background for understanding today's situation in Yugoslavia...

A Howard Fast Bibliography
Howard Fast online texts

In the fall of 1996, Greenwood Press published Andrew Macdonald's Howard Fast: A Critical Companion, including a short biography, an overview of his work, and critical studies of his major novels.

Gerald Sorin

Howard Fast:
Life and Literature in the Left Lane.

Gerald Sorin’s biography of the Jewish-leftist writer Howard Fast (1914-2003) examines Fast’s life through the lens of his political identity. Famous—or infamous—for his membership from 1943 to 1957 in the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA), Fast was often more popular in the Soviet Union than in America, although sales of his books and literary rights made him a multimillionaire by the time he died. Sorin traces his life from scrappy New York tenement kid working all hours to put food on his widowed father’s table, to wealthy Hollywood and Old Greenwich literary lion, hobnobbing with the literati... (from a review by Bettina Berch)

Indiana University Press - 2012

  
Howard Fast Portrait Album: Dustjackets, newspaper clips, magazine stories... 1938-1997.

Some biographical material:

 
Two of Fast's science-fiction stories:

 

 

SPARTACUS, one of Fast's best-known novels, was made into an Academy-award winning movie by Stanley Kubrick, starring Kirk Douglas. The Web abounds with reviews, and other sites related to the movie, some of the best of which are listed here:

+ Internet Movie Database
+ Roger Ebert
+ Frank Maloney
+ Duncan L. Cooper
+ Wayne Citrin
+ Chad Polenz

 


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