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HARDBOILED ACTIVIST: The Work and Politics of Dashiell Hammett by Ken Fuller

HARDBOILED ACTIVIST: The Work and Politics of Dashiell Hammett by Ken Fuller

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Some critics and biographers of Dashiell Hammett, author of The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man, claim that evidence of his Marxism can be found in his stories and novels. This new study, by conducting an extensive survey of his short stories (published and unpublished), novels and screen stories, demonstrates that it was only at the end of his writing career that Hammett embraced Marxism, which was—almost literally—a lifesaver for him.

Hardboiled Activist also shows that, rather than being an innocent abroad, duped into following every twist and turn of Communist Party policy, Hammett knew exactly what he was doing, and, by taking a fresh look at the beliefs which others find controversial, Fuller corrects the distortions of some earlier accounts, thus allowing the reader to gain a rounded view of the real Hammett.

The book painstakingly traces Hammett’s political trajectory, from the nihilist who found life meaningless, to the anti-fascist campaigner who championed the cause of the Spanish Republic, to the defender of civil rights who chose to go to prison rather than betray his principles during the McCarthy period.

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