Friday, July 3, 2015

Ernest Hemingway was Wounded During World War I (July 8, 1918)

This week (July 3-9) in literary history – MFK Fisher was born (July 3, 1908); First edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass was published (July 4, 1855); George Bernard Shaw quit his job at the telephone company (July 5, 1880); Mark Twain began reporting in Virginia City (July 6, 1862); Literary character Dr. John Watson, sidekick of Sherlock Holmes was born (July 7, 1852); Ernest Hemingway was wounded during World War I (July 8, 1918); William Faulkner allegedly joined the Canadian Royal Air Force (July 9, 1918)

Highlighted Literary Story of the Week -


On July 8, 1918, Ernest Hemingway was severely wounded while carrying a companion to safety on the Austro-Italian front during World War I. Hemingway, working as a Red Cross ambulance driver, was decorated for his heroism. While recuperating he fell in love with a beautiful nurse (who broke his heart) before being sent home.

Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois. After the war, he found work as a writer for the Toronto Star and married Hadley Richardson. The couple moved to Paris in 1922, where they met other American expatriate writers, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Ezra Pound. With their help and encouragement, Hemingway published his first book of short stories, Three Stories and Ten Poems in 1923. This was followed by the well-received novel, The Sun Also Rises in 1926. Hemingway would marry three more times, and his hard living and sporting life style would be followed almost as closely as his writing.

During the 1930s and 1940s, he lived in Key West and then in Cuba while continuing to travel widely. He wrote The Old Man and the Sea in 1952, his first major literary work in nearly a decade. The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. The next year he and his wife third wife, Mary Welsh were severely wounded in a plane crash in Africa. Later that same year, he was awarded the Noble Prize in Literature. In the coming years he became increasingly anxious and depressed. Like his father, he eventually committed suicide, shooting himself on July 2, 1961 at his home in Ketchum, Idaho and was buried at the Ketchum Cemetery.

Check back every Friday for a new Installment of “This Week in Literary History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is the author six award winning nonfiction books that includes Literary Legends of the British Isles and America’s Literary Legends. Visit his website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:
 
 
 
 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Ohio Murder Case Inspired Hit TV Show (July 4, 1954)

This week (June 29-July 5) in crime history – U.S. Supreme Court struck down the death penalty (June 29, 1972); Night of the Long Knives (June 30, 1934); Old West gunfighter Clay Allison was killed (July 1, 1887); NBA star Kobe Bryant was accused of sexual misconduct (July 1, 2003); President James A. Garfield was shot (July 2, 1881); Martha Ann Johnson was arrested for killing her four children (July 3, 1989); Marilyn Sheppard was murdered (July 4, 1954); Black Sox trial began (July 5, 1921); Old West outlaw Bill Doolin escaped from jail (July 5, 1896)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -


On July 4, 1954, Marilyn Sheppard was beaten to death inside her suburban home in Cleveland, Ohio. Her husband, Dr. Sam Sheppard, claimed to have fallen asleep in the family’s living room and awakened to find a man with bushy hair fleeing the scene. The authorities, who uncovered the fact that Dr. Sheppard had been having an affair, did not believe his story and charged him with killing his pregnant wife.

Creating a national sensation, the media invaded the courtroom and printed daily stories premised on Sheppard’s guilt. The jurors, who were not sequestered, found Sheppard guilty. Arguing that the circumstances of the trial had unfairly influenced the jury, Sheppard appealed to the Supreme Court and got his conviction overturned in 1966. Yet, despite the fact that Sheppard had no previous criminal record, many still believed that he was responsible for his wife’s murder.

The Sheppard case brought to light the issue of bias within the court system. Jurors are now carefully screened to ensure that they have not already come to a predetermined conclusion about a case in which they are about to hear. In especially high-profile cases, jurors can be sequestered so that they are not exposed to outside media sources. However, most judges simply order jurors not to watch news reports about the case, and rely on them to honor the order.

Sheppard’s case provided the loose inspiration for the hit television show The Fugitive, in which the lead character, Richard Kimble, is falsely accused of killing his wife, escapes from prison, and pursues the one-armed man he claimed to have seen fleeing the murder scene.

In 1998, DNA tests on physical evidence found at Sheppard’s house revealed that there had indeed been another man at the murder scene. Sheppard’s son, who had pursued the case long after his father’s death in order to vindicate his reputation, sued the state for wrongful imprisonment in 2000, but lost.

Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:
 
 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Pearl Buck was Born (June 26, 1892)

This week (June 26 – July 2) in literary history – Pearl Buck was born (June 26, 1892); First Newbery Medal for Children’s literature was awarded (June 27, 1922); Alice McDermott was born (June 27, 1953); Robert Louis Stevenson sets sail for the South Pacific (June 28, 1888); Western writer Emerson Hough was born (June 28, 1857); The Globe Theater burned down (June 29, 1613); Robert McCloskey died (June 30, 2003); Novelist George Sand was born (July 1, 1804); Novelist Hermann Hesse was born (July 2, 1877); Ernest Hemingway committed suicide (July 2, 1961)

Highlighted Literary Story of the Week -


On June 26, 1892, Nobel Prize-winning author Pearl Buck was born in West Virginia to parents on furlough from their missionary work in China. The family soon returned to China, where Buck lived for the better part of 40 years.

As a young child she learned to speak Chinese before English. Buck returned to the U.S. to attend college, then married an American agriculture specialist in China. The two settled down to live in the province. The couple later moved to Nanking to teach college.

In 1930, Buck created a literary sensation with The Good Earth. Her novel won the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes and was translated into 30 languages. In the 1930s, The Good Earth and other novels and stories by Buck were more widely read in Europe than those of any other American author. However, today few of her 80 novels and books retain as much interest as The Good Earth. She was awarded the Noble Prize in Literature in 1938, the first female American writer to win the award.

Buck created several charitable foundations for Asian-American children abroad, including an adoption agency. She spoke strongly against the internment of Japanese during World War II and wrote a letter of protest to The New York Times in 1954 that helped change immigration policy. She received many awards for her humanitarian activities. Buck died on March 6, 1973 in Danby, Vermont and was buried at her estate, Green Hills Farm in Perkasie, Pennsylvania.

Check back every Friday for a new installment of “This Week in Literary History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Literary Legends of the British Isles and America’s Literary Legends. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:
 
 


Friday, June 19, 2015

Novelist Michael Shaara was Born (June 23, 1923)


This week (June 19-25) in literary history – Nathanael West published A Cool Million (June 19, 1934); Playwright Lillian Hellman was born (June 20, 1905); Arthur Miller defied Congress and refused to name suspected Communists (June 21, 1956); Novelist Dan Brown was born (June 22, 1964); Novelist Michael Shaara was born (June 23, 1923); Novelist Pete Hamill was born (June 24, 1934); Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal was published (June 25, 1857)

Highlighted Literary Story of the Week -
 
 
On June 23, 1923, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Shaara was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. Shaara attended Rutgers and later did graduate work at Columbia and the University of Vermont before becoming a college professor at Florida State University. He also worked as a merchant seaman, paratrooper, and policeman.

Shaara wrote four novels in his lifetime but his second, The Killer Angels, is considered by many readers and historians to be the best novel ever written about the Civil War. Rich in carefully researched historic detail, the book recreated the Battle of Gettysburg and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975.

Shortly after Shaara finished the book in 1972, he was nearly killed in an automobile accident. He suffered brain damage that left him in a coma for five weeks and interfered with his hearing and speech. Troubled by lingering dyslexia and disorientation, Shaara wrote no more bestsellers before his death on May 5, 1988. However, his children later found and published his last manuscript, For the Love of the Game, about an aging baseball pitcher who pitches one last perfect game. This was adapted into a 1999 film starring Kevin Costner. Shaara’s son Jeffrey went on to write several popular works of historical fiction, including Gods and Generals, a popular prequel to The Killer Angels. Shaara is buried at Culley’s Meadow Wood Memorial Park in Tallahassee, Florida.

Check back every Friday for a new installment of “This Week in Literary History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Literary Legends of the British Isles and America’s Literary Legends. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:
 
 
 
 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Mobster Bugsy Siegel was Shot and Killed (June 20, 1947)

This week (June 15-21) in crime history – Police search the Aruba home of Joran van der Sloot in connection with disappearance of Natalie Holloway (June 15, 205); Kathleen Soliah aka Sara Jane Olsen a former member of the Symbionese Liberation Army was arrested (June 16, 1999); Watergate burglars were arrested (June 17, 1972); O.J. Simpson was arrested and charged with murdering his ex-wife and a friend (June 17, 1994); Controversial radio host Alan Berg was gunned down in his driveway (June 18, 1984); Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed (June 19, 1953); Mobster Bugsy Siegel was shot and killed (June 20, 1947); A KKK lunch mob attacked three civil rights workers in Mississippi (June 21, 1964)  

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -


On June 20, 1947, mobster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, was shot and killed at the Beverly Hills home of his girlfriend Virginia Hill. Siegel had been talking to his associate Allen Smiley when three bullets were fired through the window killing him instantly.

Siegel’s childhood had been pretty similar to that of other organized crime leaders: Growing up with little money in Brooklyn, he managed to establish himself as a teenage thug. With his pal Meyer Lansky, Siegel terrorized local peddlers and collected protection money. Before long, they had a business that included bootlegging and gambling all over New York City.

By the late 1930s, Siegel had become one of the major players of a highly powerful crime syndicate, which gave him funds to set up a Los Angeles franchise. Bugsy threw himself into the Hollywood scene, making friends with some of the biggest names of the time. His all-night parties at his Beverly Hills mansion became the hot spot in town. He also started up a successful gambling and narcotics operation to keep his bosses back east happy.

In 1945, Siegel had a brilliant idea. Just hours away from Los Angeles sat the sleepy desert town of Las Vegas, Nevada. It had nothing going for it except for a compliant local government and legal gambling. Siegel decided to build the Flamingo Hotel in the middle of the desert. The Flamingo wasn’t immediately profitable and Siegel ended up in an argument with Lucky Luciano over paying back the money used to build it. Around the same time that Siegel was killed in Beverly Hills, Luciano’s men walked into the Flamingo and announced that they were now in charge. Even Siegel probably never imagined the astounding growth and success of Las Vegas in the subsequent years.

Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:
 
 
http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Mayhem-Shocked-California-1849-1949/dp/0764339680/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1434390383&sr=8-1&keywords=michael+thomas+barry&pebp=1434307701409&perid=C85592FA92DC406EBA9F

Monday, June 8, 2015

Mobster Henry Hill was Born (June 11, 1943)

This week (June 8-14) in crime history – James Earl Ray was arrested in London for Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. (June 8, 1968); Heidi Fleiss “The Hollywood Madame” was arrested in Los Angeles (June 9, 1993); Bridget Bishop was the first victim hanged in the Salem Witchcraft Trials (June 10, 1692); Mobster Henry Hill was born (June 11, 1943); Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were murdered (June 12, 1994); Civil Rights leader Medger Evers was assassinated (June 12, 1963); Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was convicted of election corruption (June 12, 1975); The Miranda Rights were established (June 13, 1966); Jury began deliberations in the Susan Polk murder trial (June 13, 2006); TWA flight 847 was hijacked by terrorists (June 14, 1985)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -
 
 
On June 11, 1943, mobster Henry Hill, whose life of crime was chronicled in the 1986 book Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family and the 1990 film Goodfellas, was born in New York City. Hill’s underworld exploits included participating in the headline-making multi-million dollar heist at the Lufthansa cargo terminal at New York City’s JFK International Airport in 1978. It was the largest recorded cash robbery in American history at the time.

Hill, the son of an Italian-American mother and Irish-American electrician father, was attracted from a young age to the flashy lifestyles of the local mobsters in his Brooklyn neighborhood. In the mid-1950s he started working as an errand boy for a mob-operated taxi stand and pizzeria near his home. At age 17 Hill enlisted in the Army and was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He continued his involvement in small-time criminal activities while in the military and was discharged after several years.

Back in New York, Hill, as an associate of the Lucchese organized crime family, participated in a host of illegal pursuits, including truck hijackings, loan sharking and drug dealing. In the 1970s he spent more than four years in prison for an extortion conviction. When he got out, Hill took part in the theft of $5.8 million in cash and jewels from the Lufthansa cargo terminal at Kennedy Airport. Also in the late 1970s, Hill orchestrated a scheme in which members of the Boston College men’s basketball team were bribed to fix games.

In 1980, after being arrested on drug-trafficking charges, Hill, fearing his associates would kill him out of concern he might confess to the authorities, decided to make a deal with the government and become an informant. He went on to testify against a number of his fellow mobsters and helped put dozens of people behind bars. Along with his wife and two children, Hill spent time in the federal witness protection program during the 1980s, but he was eventually kicked out for drug offenses.

While he was in the witness protection program, Hill gave a series of interviews to journalist Nicholas Pileggi, who went on to write a bestselling about Hill. The book was adapted into the critically acclaimed film Goodfellas, directed by Martin Scorsese. As he grew older, Hill never fully reformed his ways and was arrested for numerous charges during the last decade of his life. After suffering from various health issues including heart disease, Hill died at age 69 in a Los Angeles hospital on June 12, 2012.

Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”
 
 
Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the critically acclaimed author of six nonfiction books that includes Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:

Friday, June 5, 2015

George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" was Published (June 6, 1949)


This week (June 5-11) in literary history – Novelist Ken Follett was born (June 5, 1949); Ray Bradbury died (June 5, 2012); George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was published (June 6, 1949); Novelist Louise Erdrich was born (June 7, 1954); Thomas Paine died (June 8, 1809); Crime novelist Patricia Cornwell was born (June 9, 1956); Leo Tolstoy, author of War and Peace sets off on pilgrimage to monastery (June 10, 1881); Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are was born (June 10, 1928); Novelist William Styron was born (June 11, 1925)

Highlighted Story of the Week –
 
 
On June 6, 1949, George Orwell’s, Nineteen Eighty-Four, a novel of a dystopian future, was published. The novel’s all-seeing leader, known as “Big Brother,” becomes a universal symbol for intrusive government and oppressive bureaucracy.

George Orwell was the pen name of Eric Blair, who was born on June 25, 1903 in India. The son of a British civil servant, Orwell attended school in London and won a scholarship to the elite prep school Eton, where most students came from wealthy upper-class backgrounds, unlike Orwell. Rather than going to college like most of his classmates, Orwell joined the Indian Imperial Police and went to work in Burma in 1922. During his five years there, he developed a severe sense of class guilt; finally in 1927, he chose not to return to Burma while on holiday in England.

Orwell, choosing to immerse himself in the experiences of the urban poor, went to Paris, where he worked menial jobs, and later spent time in England as a tramp. He wrote Down and Out in Paris and London in 1933, based on his observation of the poorer classes, and in 1937 his Road to Wigan Pier documented the life of the unemployed in northern England. Meanwhile, he had published his first novel, Burmese Days, in 1934.

Orwell became increasingly left wing in his views, although he never committed himself to any specific political party. He went to Spain during the Spanish Civil War to fight with the Republicans, but later fled as communism gained an upper hand in the struggle on the left. His barnyard fable, Animal Farm (1945), shows how the noble ideals of egalitarian economies can easily be distorted. The book brought him his first taste of critical and financial success. Orwell’s last novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, brought him lasting fame with its grim vision of a future where all citizens are watched constantly and language is twisted to aid in oppression. Orwell died of tuberculosis on January 21, 1950 and was buried at the All Saints Churchyard in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, England.

Check back every Friday for a new installment of “This Week in Literary History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Literary Legends of the British Isles and America’s Literary Legends. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links: