Cover

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Title Page

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Copyright

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Contents

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xi

Portions of this biography are based on transcripts of a series of long interviews of Howard Fast done by the late Professor Frank Campenni over a period of twelve years (1965–77). I am grateful to him for his diligence and to his widow, Jeanine, who in November...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-10

Howard Fast went from being a badly neglected, rough-and-tumble street kid in tattered clothes to a world-renowned writer worth many millions of dollars. In the midst of this remarkable journey, Fast, to the surprise of many, not only became a...

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1. Paradise Postponed

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pp. 11-43

On July 20, 1948, a month after the United States Supreme Court refused to review Howard Fast’s conviction for contempt of Congress, he wrote to screenwriter Albert Maltz in California complaining about the “cold fear” sweeping America. Those...

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2. The War against Fascism

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pp. 44-71

Four days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Howard Fast spoke at the annual book fair in Scarborough, Maine, where he was introduced as the “next really important historical novelist.” But only a short time after the entrance of the United States into...

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3. The Life of the Party

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pp. 72-106

After less than a year in the Party, Fast had encapsulated himself in a new world that would become increasingly difficult to leave without disruptive psychological consequences. As time went on, he would continue to obey the Party line, although his own instincts...

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4. Cold War, Hot Seat

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pp. 107-129

The uneasy wartime alliance between the United States and the Soviet Union dissolved in 1945 with the coming of peace, exposing longstanding hostilities between the two new superpowers. Dangerous confrontations, especially over the division of Germany and...

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5. Banned, Barred, and Besieged

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pp. 130-161

In the year between Howard Fast’s citation for contempt of Congress in April 1946 and his conviction in June 1947, he had faced not only a plagiarism suit, but incessant harassment by the FBI and the beginning of a series of attempts to ban his books. And by late...

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6. The Myopia of American Communism

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pp. 162-188

With the disastrous Wallace campaign behind him, and imprisonment ahead of him, Howard Fast spent less time writing fiction and more time writing columns, pro bono, for various Communist periodicals. His pieces were often a running commentary, mostly...

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7. Literature and Reality

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pp. 189-215

A prisoner of his own ambition and of his unwavering loyalty to Communist orthodoxy, Fast on June 7, 1950, became a prisoner of the state. The U.S. Supreme Court, on May 29 had dashed Fast’s last chance at reprieve by denying for a second time in two years...

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8. Free! But Not at Last

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pp. 216-243

At the end of August 1950, Howard Fast was out of jail but not out of the clutches of the CPUSA or free of his own inclination to obey the Party line. That he could still be intimidated into acquiescence by the power of the American Communist Party was...

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9. Trials and Tribulations

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pp. 244-268

Throughout the mid-fifties Howard Fast, certain he was in possession of the truth, fully supported the USSR and remained genuinely committed to the goals of the Communist Party of the USA. At the same time he persisted in his indefatigable quest for fame and...

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10. McCarthyism, Stalinism, and the World according to Fast

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pp. 269-283

On the day after Fast’s session with the subcommittee, G. David Schine, who was appointed to McCarthy’s staff by Roy Cohn and would later become a central figure in the Army-McCarthy Hearings of 1954, summarized the novelist’s testimony. But he added...

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11. Culture and the Cold War

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pp. 284-306

That the VFW wanted to pack Fast off to the Soviet Union was symptomatic of the anti-Communist mood of some Americans in the postwar period; but whether the Cold War between the United States and the USSR and the anti-Communist and conformist attitudes...

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12. Things Fall Apart; the Left Cannot Hold

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pp. 307-334

In his very last column for the Daily Worker, on June 12, 1956, several days after the full text of Khrushchev’s speech had been published in English, Fast was still saying he was not an enemy of the Soviet Union. He did finally admit, however, that while “I have written...

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13. Fast Forward

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pp. 335-363

In late 1957, a letter to Masses and Mainstream from a loyal American Communist Party official responding to Fast’s “My Decision” accused Howard of sins worse even than those attributed to him by his former Soviet admirers. “Continuing his psychotic conduct...

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14. Life in the Fast Lane

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pp. 364-385

Howard and Bette bought a large house in Beverly Hills with a “private pool right outside the bedroom window” and a patio overlooking “the whole city and basin of Los Angeles . . . which is like a sparkling jewel with a million facets.” Fast looked upon the...

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15. Fast and Loose

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pp. 386-399

Two months after Being Red came out, Howard told an apparently credulous journalist from People’s Weekly, “Ideally, I would prefer to spend my life on the third floor of a tenement in a run-down neighborhood surrounded by left-wing lunatics.” Fast...

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16. Fall and Decline

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pp. 400-406

By 2001, Howard Fast, at age eighty-seven, could no longer write. On vacation with Mimi in the Caribbean near the end of 2000, Fast fell and suffered a concussion. He told Jonathan it “seemed to be the beginning of his end.” He also experienced a series...

Notes

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pp. 407-478

Bibliographic Note

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p. 479

Index

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pp. 481-512