Saturday, August 30, 2008

Aug 26, 2008

Dear Sis~
I'm reading Howard Fast's historical novel, Spartacus, which is excellent. Like most people, I suppose, my familiarity with this inspiring story came from the movie of the same name, starring Kirk Douglas, which I vividly recall enjoying as a child some 40 years ago. What I did not know, until I read Fast's forward in this new edition, was the remarkable story behind the book and how Fast was forced to self-publish it after J. Edgar Hoover cowed all the mainstream publishing houses into blackballing the manuscript. This was due to Fast's previous support of some left-leaning political causes (specifically for his support of Spain's democratically elected Republican government which had been routed by Facist forces in the 1930's with the support of Hitler & Mussolini) which had already led to Fast's imprisonment in America when he refused to rat out his friends and supporters to the US House Committee on Un-American Activities. This was a dark period of our nation (the late 1940's and early 1950's) which most current Americans are sadly unaware of, when Facism was raising its ugly head throughout our government, and anyone who questioned the establishment's smear tactics was labeled as "unpatriotic" or "Un-American" or as "Socialist" or, worse yet, a "Communist".
A young Richard Nixon played his part in all of this, and J. Edgar Hoover was the muscle. It reminds me of Bush-Cheney in post-9/11 America, using fear and labels of "unpatriotic" to silence any critics of their political policies. It's an old playbook, but tried and true, and sadly it works with so many sheepish Americans who don't dare to question what the Wizard is doing behind the curtain. Anyway, to the chagrin of Hoover, Spartacus became a best-seller and then was turned onto the 1960 movie starring Kirk Douglas and Lawrence Olivier. Howard Fast noted in his forward that it was his time in Federal prison which allowed him to write Spartacus, and that he had no regrets for anything. Fast was a prolific author (more than 50 books) and playwright, and a remarkable person, a man of principle whom I would have enjoyed knowing...
It's past my bedtime, Sis, so I'm going to close this up and hit the hay.
Love, Bill

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