RE: RARA-AVIS: The Red Menace

From: Robison Michael R CNIN (
Date: 24 Jan 2003

Jim Doherty wrote: What strikes me as particularly remarkable is that the Cold War seems much more prevalent in '50s HB than WW2 was in '40s crime fiction.

********* I have barely scratched the surface of the genre in the 40s and 50s, but I was surprised how little WWII figured into the 40s books I read. Although casual reference in background material is inevitable, the war seemed almost not to have happened.

There were two books in which war figured prominently, Hemingway's FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS, and Ross Mac- Donald's THE DARK TUNNEL. Hemingway's book is about the Spanish Civil War which, near as I can tell, was a dress rehearsal for WWII. I'm not real sure if I con- sider this book hardboiled, though. Hemingway went on to write A FAREWELL TO ARMS, which was a WWII novel.

MacDonald's book was a spy venture on the hallowed USA home turf, with vivid flashback scenes of Nazi Germany. It starts with two characters attempting to join up and both are on the draft board for the local university. The plot involves thwarting a Nazi spy ring.

Although I know it's out there, I have yet to run into very much Cold War stuff in the 50s. Fleming's CASINO ROYALE is the only one so far.


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