Hope for the Heart and Food for the Soul
Sarah Cuthbertson looks at historical fiction in the life of Howard Fast
Howard Fast died during the writing of this article, at the venerable age of 88. Thereby, I offer it here as a tribute, though not an entirely uncritical one, to the memory of a much-loved author.
Howard Fast probably owed his highly successful career as a writer of politically, socially, and morally committed historical fiction to a crush he had at age seventeen on an older woman whose later criticism of his first published novel stung him into finding his true métier. More on this story later, as TV news anchors are so fond of saying.
In his long life, Howard Fast wrote over eighty works of book-length fiction and non-fiction, as well as short stories, plays, journalism, screenplays and essays. His novels include both crime and science fiction, but it is for his historical fiction that he will be best remembered. Nevertheless, in “History and Fiction”, a 1944 article for the left-wing magazine New Masses, Fast rejected the term historical fiction for his novels, “as of late – that is during the 1930s – it was familiarly used to describe a massive, carelessly written, escapist tome.” Yet in Current Biography (H.W. Wilson, 1943) he declared that he was “going to try a one-man reformation of the historical novel.”
If I dwell long on Howard Fast’s youth, this is not only because it formed him as a novelist, but also because his young life represents the American Dream writ large. It is only later that we see how the dream – temporarily – turned into a nightmare for this gifted author who, as a young man, raised himself out of the ghetto by his writing, and lived his life with the same passionate commitment that he brought to his historical novels.
Howard Fast was born in 1914 in the slums of Lower East Side Manhattan, the third child and second son of poor Jewish immigrants. His father, Barney, arriving in New York in 1878 aged nine, was given the surname Fast from his hometown of Fastov in the Ukraine. His Lithuanian-Jewish mother, Ida, who came to America via London, died when Howard was eight, leaving Barney with a nineteen-year-old daughter and three young sons. He never remarried. To avoid being tied down as second mother to her three brothers, the daughter soon left home, while the youngest son was farmed out to relatives. Barney, often depressed and either unemployed, on strike, or exhausted from working long hours at poorly-paid physical labour, was never an adequate father to Jerome and Howard, who by the time they were ten and eleven were themselves working outside school hours to help make ends meet. And when that was not enough, they were reduced to scavenging and even, at one stage, stealing from grocery deliveries left on richer people’s doorsteps. In many ways, they were the father to Barney’s child. (In his memoir, Being Red, Fast describes his father as “a good, decent dreamer of a man who always had both feet planted firmly in midair” p.38).
Eventually, with its combined earnings, the family was able to move out of the Lower East Side Jewish ghetto to a better apartment in a better neighbourhood. But it was an Irish-Italian district, and Howard came up hard against gang warfare, racism and anti-Semitism. He had not been raised as a practising Jew, and bewildered by accusations of “Christ-killing”, it was here that he began to take an interest in his cultural and religious heritage. It was here, too, in the struggle to make a decent life amid poverty, bigotry and street-fighting, that he witnessed the lynching of a thirteen-year-old black youth by a white gang. Later he turned this into a story that caused the issue of the magazine in which it was published to be banned in Boston.
Relief from gruelling poverty, hunger and brutality came during working summer vacations spent with relatives in the Catskills. These vacations were often marred by family tensions (the rural branch had worked its way out of the ghetto and looked down on the poorer one still trapped there). But as well as satisfying the city boy’s yearning for wide open spaces, these summers gave Fast a lifelong love of nature and the countryside which adds atmosphere to so many of his novels.
But always he had to return to the city slums, and things got worse with the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Depression. The company Barney worked for folded and he rarely found steady employment again, though the boys carried on working.
In Being Red, Fast describes himself as a “not a quiet or contemplative kid, but one of those irritating, impossible, doubting, questioning mavericks, full of anger and invention and wild notions, accepting nothing, driving my peers to bitter arguments and driving my elders to annoyance, rage, and despair” (p.48). And significantly, in view of his circumstances, he saw himself as innocent enough to be free of hate.
He hung on to his job at the Harlem branch of the New York Public Library, working as a page boy for six hours after school and five on Saturdays, with overtime. Here he had discovered books. In what little spare time he had, he read voraciously, if indiscriminately, absorbing the world of literature and ideas: “I loved working in the library. The walls of books gave me a sense of history, of order, of meaning in this strange world” (Being Red p.41). But above all, books taught him how to think: “I had seen my father on strike; I had seen him locked out, his head bloodied on the picket line. I had seen the economy of my country collapse…I did not have to be instructed about poverty or hunger. I had fought and been beaten innumerable times…because I was Jewish; and all of it worked together to create in my mind a simple plea, that somewhere, somehow, there was in this world an explanation that made sense” (Being Red p.42).
Two of the books that most influenced him at this time were Jack London’s The Iron Heel and The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism by George Bernard Shaw. The Iron Heel presciently portrays an underground socialist struggle against fascism, while Shaw’s book provided this sixteen-year-old “with a new way of thinking about poverty, inequality and injustice” (Being Red p.46). It didn’t take him long to realize that the power of books and writing, along with his thorough if rigid education in the New York public schools, were the tools he needed to understand the trap he was in, and the means by which he could extricate himself from it.
Even before graduating from George Washington High School and enrolling in the National Academy to study art, Howard had made the decision to become a writer. He had already written two novels and now began to submit hand-written short stories to magazines, meeting with no success until one of the Harlem librarians told him no magazine would consider a hand-written manuscript. The family agreed to rent a typewriter and three months later Amazing Stories accepted his science fiction tale, “The Wrath of the Purple”, for the handsome fee of $37, equivalent to a month’s library pay.
Quitting the library after three years, Howard went to work at a hat-maker’s for better wages. It was impossible to do this physically demanding job as well as write and attend college so, the job and the writing being for their different reasons necessary to him, he chose to drop out of the Academy.
At about this time, he became more involved with communism. He abandoned Das Kapital after 200 pages but found The Communist Manifesto and Ten Days That Shook the World more to his liking. Through his elder brother Jerome, he met Sarah Kunitz, a Communist Party member who had visited the Soviet Union. She was clever and wise and seven years his senior; he fell in love with her instantly. Though fond of him, she didn’t requite his ardour. She introduced him to other left-wing intellectuals, but talked him out of joining the party at such a young age (he was seventeen). Later, criticizing his first two published novels as escapist fairy tales and betrayals of his working-class background, she would be instrumental in setting him on the road to writing the politically-grounded historical fiction which is his lasting legacy.
In 1933, needing to get away from New York, he set off for the South with a friend who was also an aspiring writer. Hitching rides and sleeping rough (often moved on more or less forcibly by the local police) from Philadelphia to Miami, the two refought the Civil War with local boys and generally absorbed the nature and atmosphere of the Deep South, all of which would stand Fast in good stead when he came to write his Reconstruction novel, Freedom Road. But he also felt (like “a prolonged electric shock”) that he had “journeyed through a society in disintegration” and “began to understand that society could be planned and function in another way, called socialism” (Being Red p.61).
He returned to factory work, and that same year his novel Two Valleys was published. A historical romance set in Colonial West Virginia, it was the sixth he had written. He was not yet nineteen. He published two more novels, in 1934 and 1937. Then, spurred by Sarah Kunitz’s scorn, he wrote a novella-length story, The Children, based on his own life as a slum boy (and featuring the above-mentioned lynching), but found it such a painful experience that he returned to researching the American Revolution, a rich vein from which he was to produce some of his finest work.
Soon after marrying art student Bette Cohen, he gave up factory labour to write stories for various magazines, including The Saturday Evening Post and The Ladies’ Home Companion. During a trip to Valley Forge, he got the idea for his next novel, Conceived in Liberty (1939), which was written in the style of All Quiet on the Western Front, the first time the Revolutionary War had been dealt with in the realist manner. It was his breakthrough novel.
With a little money behind them, he and Bette went to Oklahoma to research the tragic story of the Cheyenne Indians who had fought a running battle with the U.S. Army in 1878-9 while attempting to return to the Wyoming homeland from which they had been forcibly exiled. Originally written from the viewpoint of the Cheyenne chief Little Wolf, it was rejected. Fast’s former editor, Sam Sloan, advised him to rewrite it from the white perspective, having realized the impossibility of a white author getting inside the head of a Cheyenne and rendering his speech into English. Fast agreed to a rewrite and Sloan accepted the novel for the publishing house he had recently set up. It was a popular and critical success, and signalled the end of financial insecurity for the Fasts.
The following year, Duell, Sloan and Pearce published The Unvanquished, a novel about the Continental Army in defeat and retreat which was described by Time magazine as “the best book about World War II”. It is also notable for a fine character study of George Washington.
While waiting to be drafted for World War II, Fast worked in the Office of War Information, writing scripts for Voice of America news broadcasts to occupied Europe. The retrospective irony of a communist sympathizer with party connections as mouthpiece of the U.S. government and armed forces no doubt wasn’t lost on Fast, although he maintained at the time that his sympathy merely took the form of compassion for the Soviet struggle against Nazism and a refusal to condemn communism. He never was drafted, due to defective sight in one eye, but the OWI would have insisted on keeping him, even in uniform, valuing the clarity of his prose, his historical perspective and his idealistic patriotism. Although troubled by the necessity of watching unedited battlefield footage as part of his job, this harrowing experience was invaluable for his novels, lending a horrifying clarity and realism to the scenes of war depicted in many of them. It also helped make him a pacifist.
During his time on Voice of America, he published Citizen Tom Paine, a fictional biography of the rabble-rousing 18th-century revolutionist whose writings were an inspiration for the American Revolution, and Freedom Road, the story of an ex-slave who rises to become a state senator in post-Civil War South Carolina, only to be betrayed when Reconstruction fails. These novels offer evocations of their respective periods that are both passionate and intellectually serious. As well as becoming an enduring bestseller, Freedom Road was acclaimed by such luminaries as Eleanor Roosevelt and W.E.B. du Bois and won its author the Schomburg Race Relations Award for 1944.
The same year, Fast’s application for a Voice of America post in North Africa was turned down. It transpired that the State Department, on FBI “advice”, would have refused him a passport because of his communist sympathies and communist party connections. Angrily, he resigned from the OWI, but after much hustling, he was commissioned by Coronet magazine (on a limited passport) as a war correspondent in Burma and India. By this time, the war was almost over but Fast, ever the observant writer, found much material in this adventure that would help shape future novels. En route to the Far East, he flew low over the Negev Desert, Sinai and Palestine, collecting images that would enhance his Biblical-era novels, Moses, Prince of Egypt (1958), Agrippa’s Daughter (1964), and My Glorious Brothers, the story of the Maccabees who fought to free Judaea from its Graeco-Syrian oppressors. This novel, published in 1948, was soon taken to the heart of newly-born – or reborn – Israel.
In India, Fast met the British, who always come off badly in his writing, perhaps understandably in the Revolutionary War novels, where they are usually portrayed as effete snobs, decadent, boorish and stupid. As an American and a socialist, Fast loathed colonialism and criticized the British in India for their refusal to acknowledge the humanity of their subjects. A vivid example of this was his description of two British army officers maintaining complete indifference to the Indian servants towelling down their genitals after a shower. He uses this vignette in at least two novels, The Pledge (1988) and his last Revolutionary War novel, Seven Days in June (1994). Incidentally, much of The Pledge was inspired by his experiences in India, including meetings with Indian communists, and a major famine that he and others controversially accused the British of engineering in order to weaken the native population and prevent them giving support to the Japanese.
Before Fast went to India, he and Bette – after much deliberation – had joined the American Communist Party (CPUSA), having come to “the conclusion that if the anti-fascist struggle was the most important fact of our lives, then we owed it to our conscience to join the group that best knew how to conduct it” (Being Red, p. 83). This, Fast points out, was at a time when the Soviet Union was an ally, having defeated a monstrous Nazi enemy at unimaginable human cost and thereby “restoring hope to mankind”. Stalin’s atrocities, the gulags and show trials, were ignored or rejected.
In his memoir, Fast traces the origins of the American socialist movement to the seventeenth-century English Levellers who fled to America to escape Cromwell’s persecution of them for their belief in total political and economic equality. In the CPUSA, Fast met many idealistic intellectuals, most of whom kept their membership secret, but the majority of members were working-class. The party was active in fighting for workers’ rights throughout the Thirties and Forties but its membership was depleted by post-war repression.
Returning to America armed with his journalistic experiences in the Far East, Fast wrote for the Communist New Masses magazine and Daily Worker newspaper, usually without pay and at his own expense, as when the Daily Worker sent him to cover the Chicago labour strikes. To do this, he temporarily put aside The American, a novel he was writing about John Peter Altgeld, the late nineteenth-century reforming Governor of Illinois who controversially pardoned three men convicted on the flimsiest evidence of involvement in the 1886 Chicago Haymarket bombing which took place during a workers’ protest meeting. The American was published in 1947.
By this time Fast had fallen foul of the U.S. government’s growing intolerance of the Left and of Communists in particular, which resulted in the House Un-American Activities Committee and the McCarthy Senate hearings. President Truman’s executive order requiring federal employees to take a loyalty oath, swearing that they were not and had never been members of the Communist Party, soon spread to state governments, schools, universities, hospitals, and eventually to the film and publishing industries. If a party member took the oath he risked a perjury conviction; refusal was effectively an admission of party membership. The penalties were dismissal from one’s job, and blacklisting, which carried the very real possibility of never being able to work in one’s profession again.
In 1946 Fast, already the subject of an extensive and expensive FBI investigation, received a subpoena to appear with others before HUAC to testify about his support for the Spanish Refugee Appeal. Under the auspices of the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee, this appeal was raising funds to finance a hospital for Spanish Republicans who had fled to France at the end of the Spanish Civil War. Fast was later recalled to answer a trumped-up charge that appeal money had been used to help the Yugoslav Communist partisan leader, Tito. He reacted angrily and with characteristic intemperance, calling the HUAC chairman, among other things, “a contemptible and disgusting little man, an enemy of not only human rights but of human decency” (Being Red p.152). Finally, in 1947, he was convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to disclose the names of contributors to the Spanish appeal. His three-month prison sentence was delayed by appeals until 1950.
None of this did his writing career any good. Already, President Truman’s special counsel, hauled up before a congressional committee for giving copies of Citizen Tom Paine to fifty friends, had pleaded that he didn’t know the book was Communist propaganda. But worse was to come. Fast’s literary agent informed him that she could no longer sell his work under his real name, and a group of librarians told him that the FBI had ordered his books to be taken off public library shelves and destroyed (but they had hidden them to restore once the madness had passed). Meanwhile, The American, a bestseller and Literary Guild selection, began to be vilified in the press. While praising it, the scholar and journalist H.L.Mencken had taken Fast to task for recently helping found the left-liberal, Communist-inspired Progressive Party: “These clowns will destroy you as surely as the sun rises and sets” (Being Red p.193). And My Glorious Brothers, lauded in Israel, was ignored by U.S. reviewers, but managed to attract venom from both the Left (for “Jewish nationalism”) and the Right (criticized by the FBI, the Jewish Book Council of America removed all reference to the award it had given Fast for the novel). Many bookshops declined to stock it.
Ever the activist, Fast accepted an invitation to a left-wing peace meeting at Peekskill in rural New York State which was to feature a concert by Paul Robeson. When the meeting was threatened by gangs of right-wing hooligans, Fast organized a small force to hold off their attacks. This was a perfect metaphor-in-action for a major theme of his historical fiction – a brotherhood fighting oppression against the odds.
In 1950, all appeals having failed, Fast finally served his three-month sentence for contempt of Congress at a “prison without walls” in rural West Virginia. In one of his court appearances, an accuser had become so exasperated at his lengthy diatribes that he had told Fast to “go write a book.” It was in Mill Point Prison that he began to do just that. The book was Spartacus, an innovative fictional rendering of the great Roman slave revolt of 73-71 BC which Fast completed in 1951, after his release. Perhaps he wasn’t entirely surprised to find that no publisher would touch the novel, or indeed anything written by him. His name had entered the blacklist. Angus Cameron, a well-respected reader at Little, Brown, which in 1950 had published Fast’s Revolutionary War story, The Proud and the Free, gave Spartacus his highest praise, but the FBI leaned menacingly on Little, Brown and on every other publisher Fast approached. Eventually the author set up his own small press to print and distribute Spartacus. His faith in the novel was vindicated by sales of more than 40,000 in the first three months after publication. When the Communist witch hunts were over, Spartacus went on to be a major bestseller, and in 1960 it was turned into a blockbuster Hollywood movie (“an intelligent epic”) starring Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton and Peter Ustinov. Its screenplay was written by another blacklisted writer, Dalton Trumbo.
Other self-published books followed – The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti (1953), based on the true story of two Italian-American anarchists executed in the 1920s for a crime they didn’t commit, and two novels based on his own recent experiences of the Red Scare, Silas Timberman and The Story of Lola Gregg (both 1954). Fast’s fiction wasn’t published commercially again until Moses, Prince of Egypt in 1958.
He considered exile abroad to get away from the Red-baiting. The family – he and Bette now had two small children – spent some months in Mexico, but returned to live quietly in New Jersey, managing on the steady flow of royalties from abroad where his novels still sold well, especially Citizen Tom Paine, Freedom Road and The Last Frontier. Many of his novels had huge print runs in the Soviet Union, which awarded him the Stalin International Peace Prize. But Soviet royalties were not forthcoming until 1957, by which time he rejected them, having left the Communist Party in shock and disgust at Khrushchev’s revelations about the atrocities and moral corruption of the Stalinist era.
This was a deeply painful decision for Fast, who might have been accused of wilful ignorance about these appalling events. He gives a heartfelt, if intemperate, account of what he considered to be his ideological betrayal in The Naked God (1957) and a more reflective, if still defensive one in Being Red (1990), which some critics see as a partial retraction. Though still devoted to leftist ideals (he remained a socialist for the rest of his life), he had always had an ambivalent relationship with the CPUSA and its leaders. Looking back on his time as a member, he writes: “In the party I found ambition, rigidity, narrowness, and hatred; I also found love and dedication and high courage and integrity – and some of the noblest human beings I have ever known” (Being Red p.355).
As a result of this very public “defection”, Fast’s star crashed out of the Soviet literary firmament almost overnight. Thus, in less than a decade, he achieved the dubious – and possibly unique – distinction of seeing his novels condemned and his literary reputation savaged by both the Right and the Left.
After running for Congress in 1952 on the American Labor Party ticket without a hope of success, Fast took no more part in public politics, and although his writing remained committed to the struggle of the dispossessed against oppression by the powerful, this was now portrayed on a more intimate canvas. April Morning, his classic novel of a boy’s brutal coming of age during the Battle of Lexington, was published in 1961, and eleven years later came The Hessian, based on a small but shocking fictional incident during the Revolutionary War. Both novels, which Fast regarded as among his finest, explored the dehumanizing savagery of war through an ordinary person caught up in large events, and both were written, as was all his subsequent fiction, in a sparer, more emotionally detached style than his pre-blacklist books, those novels of his ardent, idealistic – even romantic – youth.
In between April Morning and The Hessian appeared Agrippa’s Daughter, in 1964. It told the story of Berenice, King Herod Agrippa’s daughter, who wrestled with her Jewish identity while conducting a long affair with Titus, the conqueror of Jerusalem and future Roman emperor. Although Fast had always enjoyed the company of women (agreeing with George Bernard Shaw that they were more intelligent than men), this was the first of his novels to have a female protagonist. It wasn’t the last. During the 1970s and 80s he wrote a series of bestselling novels, The Immigrants sequence, which chronicled the fortunes of several generations of Americans as seen through the eyes of a woman to whom Fast gave many of his own personal experiences and beliefs.
By the 1960s, his books once again taken up by mainstream publishers, Fast had reached middle age, leaving behind the passionate engagement of his earlier novels, as we have seen, for a more reflective and low-key type of fiction. Having disengaged himself from active politics and public life, he now sought personal fulfilment and liberation in Zen Buddhism and an increasingly pacifist outlook.
But the Revolutionary War continued to be a source of inspiration. Bracketing The Immigrants series, came The Crossing (1971) and Seven Days in June (1994). The Crossing takes up where The Unvanquished leaves off, bringing Washington’s Continental Army out of a series of crushing defeats to the tactically and psychologically important realization that retreat followed swiftly by surprise attack is a stunningly effective form of warfare against the British. Seven Days in June, a retelling of the Battle of Bunker Hill from both British and American viewpoints, is a prequel to The Hessian in that it shares the same protagonist when younger, a disaffected British Catholic physician who has settled in America and finds himself struggling with his conscience over questions of loyalty, freedom and the morality of war.
Fast continued his astonishing output well into his eighties. His last novels were An Independent Woman (1997), the final part of The Immigrants series, and the contemporary Greenwich (2000). But before these came two more historical novels – The Pledge (1988), a fictional rendering of Fast’s own experiences as a journalist in India and victim of the anti-Communist witch-hunts at home, and The Bridge Builder’s Story (1995) in which an American WASP is shattered by his personal encounter with Nazism and the Holocaust.
Howard Fast died in March 2003. “The only thing that infuriates me,” he had commented some time before, “is that I have more unwritten stories in me than I can conceivably write in a lifetime.”
If you’ve read this far you won’t need me to tell you that the major theme running through Howard Fast’s historical fiction is man’s struggle for freedom; or that the roots of this powerfully consistent theme lie in the circumstances of his early life. Out of this emerges the archetypal Fast hero. More often than not (George Washington being a notable exception) he is a man out of the common people whom the people raise up to lead them by action and inspiration. Also more often than not, he is a man troubled by leadership, plagued with self-doubt and in the end consumed by the revolution he started (Spartacus, Tom Paine, and Judas in My Glorious Brothers). An exception is Gideon Jackson, the main protagonist in Freedom Road, who has no flaw or weakness and is thereby a flatter, less engaging character than most, undeniably moving in his strength and simplicity but a little too good to be true.
In Citizen Tom Paine, the protagonist has much in common with the younger Fast. Both men pulled themselves out of poverty by their own efforts, both were largely self-educated and earned their livings by the pen (but were known to reject royalties on principle); and both fiercely maintained their independence at considerable personal cost, including imprisonment.
In Spartacus and My Glorious Brothers, the heroes are seen mainly through the eyes of other characters, which lends an objective distance to counterbalance the highly-charged (though never wordy and rarely sentimental) emotion that characterizes much of Fast’s earlier fiction. In Spartacus, this distancing reflects how little history tells us about the slave who so nearly brought down the Roman Empire (we all remake him in our own image, as Fast’s characters do). It also enables Fast to show how slavery degraded not only slaves but their also their masters, whose slave-engendered idleness renders them physically decadent and morally corrupt.
The OWI had hired Fast for the clarity of his writing. His prose was never mannered enough to draw attention away from his story and message, yet there is a distinctive muscular style borne on Biblical rhythms, perhaps based as Andrew Macdonald suggests, on the English of the early New England settlers he admired: clear, powerful, uncluttered, direct (Howard Fast: A Critical Companion, p. 47). In his preface to the 2000 edition of Moses, Prince of Egypt, Fast writes: “I am a Bible student, and have been one since my teens, reading it for its beauty and literature, for its magnificent cadences and for its wonderful, ruthless history.”
Fast researched his history assiduously, going so far, for example, as to take a crash course in Latin for Spartacus. Most of the results remain invisible, however, subtly enhancing but never intrusive. “I make no effort to simulate the so-called ‘atmosphere’ of an era,” he wrote in “History and Fiction”, “for in a subjective sense, ‘atmosphere’ does not exist; people accept the world around them as part of their experience, and a writer who does not accept the world that surrounds his characters will almost immediately lose touch with reality. And people, regardless of their era, are essentially the same: the present in which they live has for them a matter-of-fact and not a ‘historical’ importance…if the writer is skillful enough, the reader subjectively partakes of that sameness and brotherhood which binds all men, whatever their time or race or condition.”
While always serious and thought-provoking, his historical fiction shows a sure instinct for page-turning drama which only occasionally descends into the melodramatic, and a gift for creating characters who both engage and challenge the reader.
“As to why I write about the past,” he says in “History and Fiction”, “my books give answer. These great and splendid forgotten men did not live and die so that all they did might be traduced and falsified; they lived and fought and died so that we might inherit and use the things they built. And the same kind of scoundrels as opposed them then oppose men of good will today. It all becomes one; and the great tradition we fight for today is the same tradition they sustained and handed down to us.”
Novels marked * are still in print. Details of current or forthcoming editions are given (in brackets where different from the first edition). Information on current editions (from www.amazon.com and www.amazon.co.uk) was correct at the time of going to press. Almost all of Howard Fast’s historical fiction is available from Internet used bookstores such as www.abebooks.com and www.alibris.com
Two Valleys. Dial Press, 1933
Conceived in Liberty: A Novel of Valley Forge. Simon & Schuster, 1939
*The Last Frontier. Duell, 1941 (M.E. Sharpe, 1997)
*The Unvanquished. Duell, 1942 (M.E. Sharpe, 1997)
*Citizen Tom Paine. Duell, 1944 (Grove Press/Atlantic Monthly Press, 1983)
*Freedom Road. Duell, 1944 (M.E. Sharpe, 1995)
The American: A Middle Western Legend. Duell, 1946
My Glorious Brothers. Little, Brown, 1948
*The Proud and the Free. Little, Brown, 1950 (ibooks, 2003)
*Spartacus. Blue Heron, 1951 (M.E. Sharpe, 1996; ibooks, 2000)
The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti: A New England Legend. Blue Heron, 1953
*Moses, Prince of Egypt. Crown, 1958 (ibooks, 2000, reviewed in HNR 15, February 2001 )
*April Morning. Crown, 1961 (Bantam, 1983)
Agrippa’s Daughter. Doubleday, 1964
Torquemada. Doubleday, 1966
*The Crossing. Morrow, 1971 (ibooks, 1999)
*The Hessian. Morrow, 1972 (M.E. Sharpe, 1996)
The Immigrants series:
*The Immigrants. Houghton Mifflin, 1977 (ibooks, 2000)
*Second Generation. Houghton Mifflin, 1978 (ibooks. 2001)
*The Establishment. Houghton Mifflin, 1979 (Harvest, 2001)
The Legacy. Houghton Mifflin, 1981
*The Immigrant’s Daughter. Houghton Mifflin, 1985 (Harvest, April 2004)
*An Independent Woman. Harcourt, 1997
Max. Houghton Mifflin, 1982
The Pledge. Houghton Mifflin, 1988
*Seven Days in June. Birch Lane Press, 1994 (ibooks 2001 as Bunker Hill)
*The Bridge Builder’s Story. (M.E. Sharpe, 1995)
About Howard Fast
Fast, Howard: The Naked God: The Writer and the Communist Party. Praeger, 1957
Fast, Howard: Being Red. Houghton Mifflin, 1990 (M.E.Sharpe, 1994)
Macdonald, Andrew: Howard Fast: A Critical Companion. Greenwood, 1996
Many short stories, articles by and about Howard Fast, and an extensive bibliography of all his works are available at: http://www.trussel.com/f_how.htm
First published in Solander: The Magazine of the Historical Novel Society, Issue 13 (Spring 2003).
Posted by Sarah Johnson