Howard Melvin Fast (November 11, 1914 – March 12, 2003) was an American novelist and television writer. Fast also wrote under the pen names E. V. Cunningham and Walter Ericson.
|Born||Howard Melvin Fast|
November 11, 1914
New York City, New York, United States
|Died||March 12, 2003 (aged 88)|
Greenwich, Connecticut, United States
|Pen name||E. V. Cunningham|
|Notable works||The Last Frontier, Spartacus, April Morning|
|Spouse||Bette Cohen (1937–1994; her death; 2 children)|
Mercedes O'Connor (1999–2003; his death)
Fast was born in New York City. His mother, Ida (née Miller), was a British Jewish immigrant, and his father, Barney Fast, was a Ukrainian Jewish immigrant whose name was shortened from Fastovsky upon his arrival in America. When his mother died in 1923 and his father became unemployed, Howard's youngest brother, Julius, went to live with relatives, while he and his older brother Jerome worked by selling newspapers. He credited his early voracious reading to his part-time job in the New York Public Library.
Fast began writing at an early age. While hitchhiking and riding railroads around the country to find odd jobs, he wrote his first novel, Two Valleys, published in 1933 when he was 18. His first popular work was Citizen Tom Paine, a fictional account of the life of Thomas Paine. Always interested in American history, Fast also wrote The Last Frontier about the Cheyenne Indians' attempt to return to their native land, which inspired the 1964 movie Cheyenne Autumn and Freedom Road, about the lives of former slaves during Reconstruction.
The novel Freedom Road is based on a true story and was made into a 1979 film starring Muhammad Ali, who, in a rare acting role, played Gideon Jackson, an ex-slave in 1870s Virginia who is elected to the U.S. Senate and battles other former slaves and white sharecroppers to keep the land that they tended all their lives.
Fast is the author of the prominent "Why the Fifth Amendment?" essay. This essay explains in detail the purpose of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. Fast effectively uses the context of the Red Scare to illustrate the purpose of the "Fifth."
Fast spent World War II working with the United States Office of War Information, writing for Voice of America. In 1943, he joined the Communist Party USA and in 1950, he was called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities; in his testimony, he refused to disclose the names of contributors to a fund for a home for orphans of American veterans of the Spanish Civil War (one of the contributors was Eleanor Roosevelt), and he was given a three-month prison sentence for contempt of Congress.
It was while he was at Mill Point Federal Prison that Fast began writing his most famous work, Spartacus, a novel about an uprising among Roman slaves. Blacklisted by major publishing houses following his release from prison, Fast was forced to publish the novel himself. By the standards of a self published book, it was a great success, going through seven printings in the first four months of publication. (According to Fast in his memoir, 50,000 copies were printed, of which 48,000 were sold.)
He subsequently established the Blue Heron Press, which allowed him to continue publishing under his own name throughout the period of his blacklisting. Just as the production of the film version of Spartacus (released in 1960) is considered a milestone in the breaking of the Hollywood blacklist, the reissue of Fast's novel by Crown Publishers in 1958 effectively ended his own blacklisting within the American publishing industry.
In 1952, Fast ran for Congress on the American Labor Party ticket. During the 1950s he also worked for the Communist newspaper, the Daily Worker. In 1953, he was awarded the Stalin Peace Prize. Later that decade, Fast broke with the Party over issues of conditions in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
In the mid-1950s, Fast moved with his family to Teaneck, New Jersey. In 1974, Fast and his family moved to California, where he wrote television scripts, including such television programs as How the West Was Won. In 1977, he published The Immigrants, the first of a six-part series of novels.
He married his first wife, Bette Cohen, on June 6, 1937. Their children were Jonathan and Rachel. Bette died in 1994. In 1999, he married Mercedes O'Connor, who already had three sons. He died in Old Greenwich, Connecticut.
The writer Julius Fast was his younger brother.
Uncollected short stories.
April Morning is a 1961 novel by Howard Fast, about Adam Cooper's coming of age during the Battle of Lexington. One critic notes that in the beginning of the novel he is "dressed down by his father, Moses, misunderstood by his mother, Sarah, and plagued by his brother, Levi." In the backdrop are the peaceful people of Lexington, forced "to go into a way of war that they abhorred."While the novel was not originally written as a young adult story, it has increasingly been assigned in middle school English and social studies classes, due to the age of the protagonist and Fast's meticulous efforts to recreate the texture of daily life in colonial America and the political currents on the eve of the American Revolution.
In 1988, a film version was made for television starring Chad Lowe as Adam and Tommy Lee Jones as Moses.Family saga
The family saga is a genre of literature which chronicles the lives and doings of a family or a number of related or interconnected families over a period of time. In novels (or sometimes sequences of novels) with a serious intent, this is often a thematic device used to portray particular historical events, changes of social circumstances, or the ebb and flow of fortunes from a multitude of perspectives.
The word saga meaning saying, comes from the Icelandic language and refers to Old Norse and Icelandic family stories.
The typical family saga follows generations of a family through a period of history in a series of novels. A number of subgenres of the form exist such as the AGA saga.
Successful writers of popular family sagas include Susan Howatch, R. F. Delderfield and Philippa Carr.
Examples of family sagas of literary note include:
The Sagas of Icelanders - the medieval Icelandic family sagas whence the word 'saga' is derived;
Dream of the Red Chamber - one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese Literature, it chronicles the rise and decline of the Jia family;
Kristin Lavransdatter, by Sigrid Undset;
Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh;
Buddenbrooks, by Thomas Mann;
The Covenant, by James A. Michener;
Dune, by Frank Herbert;
The Tower and the Hive series by Anne McCaffrey, set in the universe of the "Pegasus" trilogy;
the Shannara cycle, by Terry Brooks;
A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight, by Henry Williamson;
The Forsyte Saga, by John Galsworthy;
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende;
The Jalna books, by Mazo de la Roche;
The Kent Family Chronicles and The Crown Family Saga, by John Jakes;
Strangers and Brothers, by C. P. Snow;
The Immigrants, by Howard Fast;
The Mallens, by Catherine Cookson;
One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez
Time and the Wind, by Erico Verissimo
The Palaeologian Dynasty. The Rise and Fall of Byzantium, by George Leonardos;
Roots, by Alex Haley;
The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough;
Holes, a novel by Louis Sachar;
The Lymond Chronicles and The House of Niccolò, Renaissance-set novel series by Dorothy Dunnett;
Fall on Your Knees, by Ann-Marie MacDonald;
Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides;
White Teeth, by Zadie Smith;
The Witcher, by Andrzej Sapkowski;
Captains and the Kings, by Taylor Cadwell;
Evergreen, by Belva Plain;
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, a manga series by Hirohiko Araki;
The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold;
The Emberverse series, by S. M. Stirling
Roma, by Steven SaylorFreedom Road
For the U.S. Marxist organization, see Freedom Road Socialist Organization.Freedom Road was a 1979 American TV historical drama mini-series starring boxer Muhammad Ali and Kris Kristofferson, based on the 1944 novel by Howard Fast and directed by Jan Kadar. Running for four hours, it was first broadcast on NBC on October 29 and 30, 1979.M. E. Sharpe
M.E. Sharpe, Inc., an academic publisher, was founded by Myron Sharpe in 1958 with the original purpose of publishing translations from Russian in the social sciences and humanities. These translations were published in a series of journals, the first of which was Problems of Economics, now called Problems of Economic Transition. In the 1960s the translation project was expanded to include other European languages, and then Chinese and later, Japanese. Other academic journals launched by M.E. Sharpe during these years featured articles originating in English. At present the firm publishes over 35 periodicals including Challenge: The Magazine of Economic Affairs, Journal of Management Information Systems, International Journal of Electronic Commerce, Journal of Post-Keynesian Economics, and Problems of Post-Communism. Shortly after it was established, M.E. Sharpe, Inc. also began to publish scholarly books in the social sciences and humanities, with a special emphasis on international studies. In the 1980s the book division was expanded and it currently publishes approximately 60 new titles a year, including works in economics, business, management, public administration, political science, history, and literature. Many of M.E. Sharpe’s textbooks are available in digital editions through the Sharpe E-Text Center.Several Nobel Prize winners, including Kenzaburō Ōe and Wassily Leontief, are among M.E. Sharpe authors, as is the acclaimed American novelist Howard Fast, author of Spartacus. The East Gate Books imprint is widely recognized as representing the best in Asian Studies.In 1995 Sharpe Reference was founded to provide essential reference material for the high school, undergraduate, and general reader—again, building on Sharpe’s areas of strength in American studies and global studies. The full, updated content of many of these reference sets is also available in electronic editions published by Sharpe Online Reference.M.E. Sharpe, Inc. started in New York City and was originally called International Arts and Sciences Press. After twelve years in the city, the firm moved to White Plains, New York. Its offices have been based in Armonk, New York, since 1980.M.E. Sharpe was sold to Routledge in 2014.Man in the Middle (film)
Man in the Middle is a 1964 CinemaScope film, starring Robert Mitchum and directed by Guy Hamilton. The movie, set in World War II India, tells the story of the murder trial of an American Army officer who killed a British soldier. Mitchum plays Lieut. Col. Barney Adams, who has been assigned as the accused man's defense counsel. The film is also known as The Winston Affair, the title of the novel the film was based on, which was written by Howard Fast.Max (Fast novel)
Max is a 1982 novel by Howard Fast. It tells the story of a young man who leaves his humble roots on the lower east side of New York City to find success in Hollywood's earliest stages. Max has had 52 editions of publication in 10 languages.Mirage (1965 film)
Mirage is a 1965 thriller directed by Edward Dmytryk from a screenplay by Peter Stone, based on the 1952 novel Fallen Angel, written by Howard Fast under the pseudonym Walter Ericson; the novel is not credited by title onscreen. The film stars Gregory Peck, Diane Baker, Walter Matthau, George Kennedy and Kevin McCarthy, and was released by Universal Pictures.My Glorious Brothers
My Glorious Brothers is a historical novel by the Jewish American novelist Howard Fast, depicting the 167 BC Maccabeean revolt against the Greek-Seleucid Empire. The book, which deals with Jewish independence and self-determination, was published in 1948, during the Israeli War of Independence.
The story takes place in the days before the rebellion, and during the ensuing battles. The heroes of the novel are the Hasmoneans in general, and Judas Maccabeus in particular. In addition to the historical facts, Fast added some personal rivalries among the Maccabean brothers.Power (Fast novel)
Power is a 1962 novel by Howard Fast detailing the rise of the fictional Benjamin Holt, leader of the International Miner's Union, in the 1920s and 1930s.
Written from the perspective of a journalist – Alvin Cutter – it follows Ben Holt's life from a number of different perspectives, from meeting his wife to becoming a leading light in the industrial trade union movement.Rachel and the Stranger
Rachel and the Stranger is a black-and-white 1948 western film starring Loretta Young, William Holden, and Robert Mitchum. The Norman Foster-directed film was one of the few to address the role of women in the pioneer west, as well as portray early America's indentured servant trade. It was based on the Howard Fast short story "Rachel".
While the film had a low budget, it was RKO's most successful film that year, making $395,000.Redemption (Fast novel)
Redemption is a 1999 novel written by Jewish writer Howard Fast, who wrote the novel Spartacus in the 1950s. Redemption is both a romance, a legal drama, and Fast's first suspense novel, depicting Ike Goldman, an old professor emeritus falling in love with a woman named Elizabeth, who is later accused of her ex-husband's murder. The novel is published by Harcourt Brace & Company.Spartacus (Fast novel)
Spartacus is a 1951 historical novel by American writer Howard Fast. It is about the historic slave revolt led by Spartacus around 71 BCE. The book inspired the 1960 film directed by Stanley Kubrick and the 2004 TV adaptation by Robert Dornhelm.Spartacus (film)
Spartacus is a 1960 American epic historical drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick, written by Dalton Trumbo, and based on the novel of the same title by Howard Fast. It is inspired by the life story of Spartacus, the leader of a slave revolt in antiquity, and the events of the Third Servile War, and stars Kirk Douglas in the title role, Laurence Olivier as Roman general and politician Marcus Licinius Crassus, Peter Ustinov, who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, as slave trader Lentulus Batiatus, John Gavin as Julius Caesar, Jean Simmons as Varinia, Charles Laughton as Sempronius Gracchus, and Tony Curtis as Antoninus.
Douglas, whose company Bryna Productions was producing the film, removed original director Anthony Mann after the first week of shooting. Kubrick, with whom Douglas had worked before, was brought on board to take over direction. It was the only film directed by Kubrick where he did not have complete artistic control. Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was blacklisted at the time as one of the Hollywood Ten. Douglas publicly announced that Trumbo was the screenwriter of Spartacus, and President-elect John F. Kennedy crossed American Legion picket lines to view the film, helping to end blacklisting; Howard Fast was also blacklisted, and originally had to self-publish it.
The film won four Academy Awards and became the biggest moneymaker in Universal Studios' history, until it was surpassed by Airport (1970). In 2017, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".Spartacus (miniseries)
Spartacus is a 2004 North American miniseries directed by Robert Dornhelm and produced by Ted Kurdyla from a teleplay by Robert Schenkkan. It aired over two nights on the USA Network, and stars Goran Visnjic, Alan Bates, Angus Macfadyen, Rhona Mitra, Ian McNeice, Ross Kemp and Ben Cross. It is based on the novel of the same name by Howard Fast.
The plot, setting, and costumes are nearly identical to those of the Stanley Kubrick 1960 version; however, this adaptation follows Howard Fast's novel more closely than does Kubrick's film. (Two of the more noticeable omissions from the new adaptation are the "I am Spartacus!" scene and Spartacus' and his wife's reunion after the battle.) The miniseries is shown as a story a woman narrates to her son, who are later revealed to be Spartacus' wife and son.
A notable piece of dramatic license has Spartacus' son born exactly at the moment Spartacus dies in battle.
As Marcus Crassus and Pompey Magnus are being proclaimed co-consuls, the announcer calls Rome an Empire, when it was still a Republic at the time.The Hessian
The Hessian is a 1972 novel by Howard Fast set in the time of the American Revolution.The Immigrants
The Immigrants (1977) is a historical novel written by Howard Fast. Set in San Francisco during the early 20th Century, it tells the story of Daniel Lavette, a self described "roughneck" who rises from the ashes of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and becomes one of the most successful and dominating figures in San Francisco. The book hit number 5 on New York Times adult best seller list on November 6, 1977.The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers of 1979
This is a list of adult fiction books that topped The New York Times Fiction Best Seller list in 1979.The Proud and the Free
The Proud and the Free is a historical novel by Howard Fast that was published in 1950. It tells the story of the Pennsylvania Line Mutiny from the enlisted men's point of view.