For Willa Cather, "the world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts." The whole legacy of Western civilization stood on the far side of World War I, and in the spiritually impoverished present she looked back to that.
Willa Cather, in full Wilella Sibert Cather, (born December 7, 1873, near Winchester, Virginia, U.S.—died April 24, 1947, New York City, New York), American novelist noted for her portrayals of the settlers and frontier life on the American plains.
At age 9 Cather moved with her family from Virginia to frontier Nebraska, where from age 10 she lived in the village of Red Cloud. There she grew up among the immigrants from Europe—Swedes, Bohemians, Russians, and Germans—who were breaking the land on the Great Plains.
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At the University of Nebraska she showed a marked talent for journalism and story writing, and on graduating in 1895 she obtained a position in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on a family magazine. Later she worked as copy editor and music and drama editor of the Pittsburgh Leader. She turned to teaching in 1901 and in 1903 published her first book of verses, April Twilights. In 1905, after the publication of her first collection of short stories, The Troll Garden, she was appointed managing editor of McClure’s, the New York muckraking monthly. After building up its declining circulation, she left in 1912 to devote herself wholly to writing novels.
Cather’s first novel, Alexander’s Bridge (1912), was a factitious story of cosmopolitan life. Under the influence of Sarah Orne Jewett’s regionalism, however, she turned to her familiar Nebraska material. With O Pioneers! (1913) and My Ántonia (1918), which has frequently been adjudged her finest achievement, she found her characteristic themes—the spirit and courage of the frontier she had known in her youth. One of Ours (1922), which won the Pulitzer Prize, and A Lost Lady (1923) mourned the passing of the pioneer spirit.
In her earlier Song of the Lark (1915), as well as in the tales assembled in Youth and the Bright Medusa (1920), including the much-anthologized “Paul’s Case,” and Lucy Gayheart (1935), Cather reflected the other side of her experience—the struggle of a talent to emerge from the constricting life of the prairies and the stifling effects of small-town life.
Cather’s will erected strong protections around her intellectual property, preventing adaptations of her fiction and forbidding publication of her correspondence. However, upon the 2011 death of a nephew who had served as her last designated executor, copyright of her work passed to the Willa Cather Trust. The trust—a partnership of the Willa Cather Foundation, Cather’s remaining family, and the University of Nebraska Foundation—lifted the prohibitions on publishing her letters. Though Cather had destroyed much of her own epistolary record, nearly 3,000 missives were tracked down by scholars, and 566 were collected in The Selected Letters of Willa Cather (2013).
In 1940 and 1941 a group of ruthless gangsters from Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood became the focus of media frenzy when they—dubbed “Murder Inc.,” by New York World-Telegram reporter Harry Feeney—were tried for murder. It is estimated that collectively they killed hundreds of people during a reign of terror that lasted from 1931 to 1940. As the trial played out to a packed courtroom, shocked spectators gasped at the outrageous revelations made by gang leader Abe “Kid Twist” Reles and his pack of criminal accomplices.
News of the trial proliferated throughout the country; at times it received more newspaper coverage than the unabated war being waged overseas. The heinous crimes attributed to Murder, Inc., included not only murder and torture but also auto theft, burglary, assaults, robberies, fencing stolen goods, distribution of illegal drugs,and just about any “illegal activity from which a revenue could be derived.” When the trial finally came to a stunning unresolved conclusion in November 1941, newspapers generated record headlines.
Once the trial was over, tales of the Murder, Inc., gang became legendary, spawning countless books and memoirs and providing inspiration for the Hollywood gangster-movie genre. These men were fearsome brutes with an astonishing ability to wield power. People were fascinated by the “gangster” figure, which had become a symbol for moral evil and contempt and whose popularity showed no signs of abating. As both a study in criminal behavior and a cultural fascination that continues to permeate modern society, the reverberations of “Murder, Inc.” are profound, including references in contemporary mass media.
The Murder, Inc., story is as much a tale of morality as it is a gangster history, and Murder, Inc., and the Moral Life by Robert Whalen meshes both topics clearly and meticulously, relating the gangster phenomenon to modern moral theory. Each chapter covers an aspect of the Murder, Inc., case and reflects on its ethical elements and consequences. Whalen delves into the background of the criminals involved, their motives, and the violent death that surrounded them; New York City’s immigrant gang culture and its role as “Gangster City”; fiery politicians Fiorello La Guardia and Thomas E. Dewey and the choices they made to clean up the city; andthe role of the gangster in popular culture and how it relates to “real life.” Whalen puts a fresh spin on the two topics, providing a vivid narrative with both historical and moral perspective.
The true story behind the Martin Scorsese film: A “riveting . . . account of how organized crime looted the casinos they controlled” (Kirkus Reviews). Focusing on Chicago bookie Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal and his partner, Anthony Spilotro, and drawing on extensive, in-depth interviews, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of the Mafia classic Wiseguy—basis for the film Goodfellas—Nicholas Pileggi reveals how the pair worked together to oversee Las Vegas casino operations for the mob. He unearths how Teamster pension funds were used to take control of the Stardust and Tropicana and how Spilotro simultaneously ran a crew of jewel thieves nicknamed the “Hole in the Wall Gang.” For years, these gangsters kept a stranglehold on Sin City’s brightly lit nightspots, skimming millions in cash for their bosses. But the elaborate scheme began to crumble when Rosenthal’s disproportionate ambitions drove him to make mistakes. Spilotro made an error of his own, falling for his partner’s wife, a troubled showgirl named Geri. It would all lead to betrayal, a wide-ranging FBI investigation, multiple convictions, and the end of the Mafia’s longstanding grip on the multibillion-dollar gaming oasis in the midst of the Nevada desert. Casino is a journey into 1970s Las Vegas and a riveting nonfiction account of the world portrayed in the Martin Scorsese film of the same name, starring Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, and Sharon Stone. A story of adultery, murder, infighting, and revenge, this “fascinating true-crime Mob history” is a high-stakes page-turner (Booklist).
Fred Rosen follows a killer’s trail back in time 2 decades to discover how a monster slipped through the legal system When police in Tampa, Florida, arrested Larry Singleton in 1997 for brutally murdering prostitute Roxanne Hayes, they soon realized it wasn’t the man’s first violent attack. Back in 1978 he had gained notoriety as “the Mad Chopper” for raping and cutting off the arms of 15-year-old Mary Vincent on a patch of desolate, sun-scorched land 5 miles off the highway near Modesto, California. When Singleton was let out of prison on supervised parole after serving only 8 years for his crimes, no community in California would accept him. He eventually moved back to his home in Florida, where he killed Hayes nearly 20 years after his original crime. But his first victim, Vincent, had survived, walking nearly a mile to get help after the assault, and testified against him at his trial for murdering Hayes.
Since the late 19th century, the Mafia has been a presence in North America using intimidation and worse to exert its control over organized crime in the major cities and beyond - anything from loansharking to bootlegging during Prohibition to extortion, kidnapping and racketerring. For the Mob (as they are also known), crime was big business. Feuds between Mafia families and their associates led to Lucky Luciano, the preeminent Mob boss, creating the Commission, which to this day rules over Mob activity and disputes. Throughout the 20th century, the ruthlessness of the Mafia has been in evidence: the list of Mob victims seems endless. Mafia Hits recalls the most important executions - the rival bosses, the stool pigeons and snitches, the good cops and the dirty cops, the vicious feuds and the hit-men who lived by the gun and died by it. All are here in this fascinating tale of the American underworld.
The secret life of a Michigan couple unraveled when police discovered they’d committed 2 horrific murders When Carol Giles’s friend Nancy Billiter was found dead—she had been bound, sexually violated, and injected with a lethal dose of battery acid and heroin—detectives in Michigan traced Billiter’s death back to Giles and her boyfriend, Tim Collier. Police also learned that the diabolical duo shared another secret: They had murdered Giles’s husband, Jessie. Jessie, who had died months before Billiter, was disinterred, and an autopsy proved he’d been given a lethal shot of heroin instead of his prescribed insulin. Homebound and diabetic, Jessie was a heroin dealer. Police determined that Giles—who was fed up with taking care of her husband and children—along with her lover, Collier, had stolen the fatal dose from Jessie’s own drug supply. The cops surmised that Billiter’s death might have been due to her knowledge of the couple’s plot. In their dramatic trial, Giles and Collier turned against each other, but both were eventually convicted of murder.
The shocking true story of the Russian serial killer who brutally murdered more than fifty victims—and evaded capture for over a decade. By the time he was brought to trial in 1992, Soviet serial killer Andrei Chikatilo had killed more than fifty women and children, often sexually abusing them and leaving their bodies mutilated beyond recognition. Although he was initially arrested in 1984, the police lacked enough evidence to pin the unsolved murders on him and he was able to torture and kill dozens more before his eventual conviction. Compiling exclusive interviews and trial transcripts, journalist and editor at London’s Sunday Times Peter Conradi reveals how the grandfather and former teacher carried out a horrific twelve-year killing spree right under the nose of authority. Based on extensive research into Chikatilo’s past and the elements of Soviet society that allowed his crimes to go unsolved for so long, Conradi delves into the life of one of history’s most prolific and disturbing serial killers. Interviews with Moscow police detectives detail the fervent hunt for the man who preyed on young children, prostitutes, and runaways—a search that turned up many dead ends and false convictions before a massive undercover surveillance effort ultimately nabbed Chikatilo. A chilling look into the deranged mind of a monster, The Red Ripper is a comprehensive and shocking true crime account—plus photos—of one of the twentieth century’s deadliest killers and the manhunt to catch him.
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