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 for more information. His books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:

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