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The Sixties: A Time in Transition


In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, 1965

Fascinated by a 1959 mass murder of a farm family in Holcombe, Kansas, writer Truman Capote (1924-1984) travelled from New York City to Holcombe to investigate and write about the case.  Capote had previously written such works as Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948) and Breakfast at Tiffany’s: A Short Novel and Three Stories (1958).

The story of the unexplained killing of the Clutter family appeared in The New York Times on November 16th 1959.  Upon reading the article, Capote decided to travel to Kansas to discover what had happened. He brought along childhood friend Harper Lee, author of the Pullitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), to help.  While there, they interviewed all the principals in the case, including the murder suspects, who were caught a month later in Las Vegas.  Capote continued his research there on- and-off for the next four years until his finished work documenting the town, the murders, and the convicted and later executed killers was published as a four-part serial in The New Yorker beginning in September of 1965. The story was published in book form in 1966 by Random House.

In Cold Blood, which is considered by many to be the first important non-fiction novel, was an instant hit and an international bestseller. The book displayed here is a first edition, first printing.

The Comedians by Graham Greene , 1966

Henry Graham Greene (1904-1991) was a British author, playwright, and literary critic and wrote 32 books between the years 1929 and 1990.  His works mainly deal with moral and political issues in the world, particularly in developing countries. 

The Comedians is a story based in Haiti in the early 1960s under the real-life dictatorship of François "Papa Doc" Duvalier.  Though the characters and plot are fictional, Greene’s depiction of the cruel and corrupt Duvalier regime reflected the reality of the situation in Haiti in the 1960s. 

After publication of The Comedians, the Duvalier government attacked Graham Greene in a pamphlet entitled Graham Greene Demasque (Graham Greene Exposed). In the pamphlet Haiti’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs characterized Greene as  “a  liar, a cretin, a stool-pigeon… unbalanced, sadistic, perverted…a perfect ignoramus…lying to his heart's content…the shame of proud and noble England…a spy…a drug addict…a torturer."  

The book displayed here is a first American edition.A li


The Fixer by Bernard Malamud, 1966

The Fixer is a fiction novel based on the true story of the “Bellis Affair,” an event occurring in Tsarist Russia in 1913. In that case, Menahem Bellis, a Jewish factory supervisor was wrongly accused of murdering a young boy from his village.   The ensuing trial revealed the extent of which anti-semitism permeated society and government in Russia at the time.  Malamud (1914-1986), a Jewish author from Brooklyn, had previously been the author of The Natural (1952) and The Magic Barrell (1958). The Natural was made into a popular film in 1984, starring Robert Redford.

In The Fixer, a Jewish Handyman by the name of Yakov Bok is arrested on suspicion of murdering a Christian boy during Passover in Kiev.  He is accused of killing the boy in a ritual murder, a phenomenon often unfairly associated with Jews.  The outcome of the trial to come is unknown, as the book ends before this event takes place, but Yakov makes his own indictment upon the Tsarist society and regime for its anti-Semitism in a dream sequence at the novel’s end.

The Fixer won The National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, both in 1967. The book displayed here is a first edition, first printing.

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger, 1961

J.D. Salinger (1919-2010) was an American writer who published four books and numerous short stories.  He is best known for his 1951 work, The Catcher in the Rye. A native New Yorker, Salinger often wrote about Manhattan or New York-based families in his stories. One such family is the Glasses, of which both title characters Franny and Zooey are members.  Salinger was also known for his reclusive lifestyle, disappearing from the literary scene by 1965 and giving his last interview in 1980.   

Franny and Zooey is Salinger's third book.  The book is written in two parts, Franny (Part 1) and Zooey (Part 2).  Each part originally appeared as a short piece in The New Yorker in 1955 and 1957, respectively. Franny and Zooey, a sister and brother both in their twenties, are the two youngest members of the Glass family. The action of both parts takes place over a long weekend in November 1955 when Franny undergoes a nervous breakdown and Zooey, after much dialogue, eventually soothes her with advice once given him by their oldest brother.

The book displayed here is a first edition, second printing.

Report of the County Chairman by James Michener, 1961

James Michener (1907-1997) was one of the more prolific American writers, authoring and/or contributing to nearly sixty books, both historical fiction and non- fiction.   As a young man Michener travelled almost the entire country, hitchhiking and hopping train boxcars to get from one place to another. In the 1930s Michener was a college professor, and he served in the Pacific as a sailor in the U.S. Navy during World War II.  After the war he wrote Tales of the South Pacific, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1948. While living in Hawaii, he wrote his best-selling novel Hawaii, finishing it on the day Hawaii became the 50th state in the Union. Michener went on to write many more popular works, including: The Source (1965), Centennial (1974), Chesapeake (1978), Space (1982), Texas (1985), Alaska (1988), America (1992), and Recessional (1994)

Returning to his home town of Bucks County, PA in 1960, he served as the Chairman of the county’s Citizens for Kennedy Committee.  Report of the County Chairman is Michener’s story of his service to the Kennedy campaign in 1960.  The displayed here is a first edition, first printing.

All the Little Live Things by Wallace Stegner, 1967

Wallace Stegner (1909-1993) was a novelist, short-story writer, historian, and noted environmentalist. He wrote 28 novels, biographies and books of essays during a 50-year career. Stegner developed a personal affinity for the American West and lived in various locations across the western United States and Canada.  Examples of Stegner’s love for the scenery and people of the West appeared in many of his later writings, such as the Pulitzer Prize-winning Angle of Repose (1972).

All the Little Live Things is a novel about a former literary agent named Joe Allston, who moves west to the mountains of central California with his wife Ruth to spend their retirement in a quiet, idyllic setting . The characters they find there (a land developer, a bearded flower-child squatter, and a young mother) illustrate that there is really no such thing as “Eden” and challenge Joe to rethink the values of his generation and his own past.

The book displayed here is a first edition.