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Howard Fast
Born Howard Melvin Fast
11 November 1914 (1914-11-11)
New York City
Died 12 March 2003 (2003-03-13) (aged 88)
Greenwich, Connecticut
Occupation novelist
Nationality USA
Writing period 20th century
Genres historical fiction
Notable work(s) The Last Frontier, Spartacus, April Morning
Literature portal

Howard Melvin Fast (11 November 1914 – 12 March 2003) was an American novelist and television writer. Fast also wrote under the pen names E. V. Cunningham and Walter Ericson.




Early life

Fast was born in New York City. His mother, Ida (née Miller), was a British Jewish immigrant and his father, Barney Fast, was a Ukrainian Jewish immigrant whose name was shortened from Fastovsky upon arrival here. When his mother died in 1923 and his father became unemployed, Howard's youngest brother, Julius, went to live with relatives, while Howard and his older brother Jerome worked by selling newspapers. He credited his early voracious reading to his part-time job in the New York Public Library.

Young Howard began writing at an early age. While hitchhiking and riding railroads around the country to find odd jobs, he wrote his first novel, Two Valleys, published in 1933 when he was 18. His first popular work was Citizen Tom Paine, a fictional account of the life of Thomas Paine. Always interested in American history, he also wrote The Last Frontier, about an attempt by Cheyennes to return to their native land; and Freedom Road, about the lives of former slaves during Reconstruction.


Fast spent World War II working with the United States Office of War Information, writing for Voice of America. But he had joined the Communist Party USA in 1944, and was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee. He refused to disclose the names of contributors to a fund for a home for orphans of American veterans of the Spanish Civil War (one of the contributors was Eleanor Roosevelt), and he was imprisoned for three months in 1950 for contempt of Congress.

It was while he was in jail that Fast began writing his most famous work, Spartacus, a novel about an uprising among Roman slaves. Blacklisted for his Communist activities and his criminal record, Fast was forced to publish the novel by his own Blue Heron Press. Unable to publish under his own name, he used various pseudonyms, including E.V. Cunningham, under which he published a series of popular detective novels starring a Nisei detective with the Beverly Hills, California Police Department.

In 1952, Fast ran for Congress on the American Labor Party ticket. During the 1950s he also worked for the Communist newspaper, the Daily Worker. In 1953, he was awarded the Stalin Peace Prize. But, later in the decade, Fast broke with the Party over issues of conditions in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

In the mid-1950s, Fast moved with his family to Teaneck, New Jersey.[1]

Shortly afterward, Fast wrote April Morning, an account of the Battle of Lexington and Concord from the perspective of a fictional teenager. While not originally intended as a "young adult" novel, it has become a frequent assignment in American secondary schools and is probably thus his most popular work in the early 21st century. A film version was made for television in 1988.

In 1974, Fast and his family moved to California, where he wrote television scripts, including such television programs as How the West Was Won. In 1977, he published The Immigrants, the first of a six-part series of novels.

Personal life

He married his first wife, Bette Cohen, on June 6, 1937. Their children are Jonathan and Rachel. Bette died in 1994. In 1999 he married Mercedes O'Connor, who already had three sons. He died in Old Greenwich, Connecticut on 12 March 2003.

Fast's son Jonathan Fast, himself a novelist, was married to novelist Erica Jong; their daughter is the novelist Molly Jong-Fast.




  • Being Red (1990)
  • The Naked God: The Writer and the Communist Party (1957)


  • Two Valleys (1933)
  • Strange Yesterday (1934)
  • Place in the City (1937)
  • Conceived in Liberty; a novel of Valley Forge (1939)
  • The Last Frontier (novel) (1941)
  • The Unvanquished (1942)
  • Citizen Tom Paine (1943)
  • Freedom Road (1944)
  • The American: A Middle Western Legend (1946)
  • Clarkton (1947)
  • The Children (1947)
  • My Glorious Brothers (1948)
  • The Proud and the Free (1950)
  • Spartacus (1951) ISBN 1-56324-599-X
  • The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti, a New England legend (1953)
  • Silas Timberman (1954)
  • The Story of Lola Gregg (1956)
  • Moses, Prince of Egypt (1958)
  • The Winston Affair (1959)
  • The Golden River (1960)
  • Sylvia (1960)
  • April Morning (1961)
  • Power (1962)
  • Agrippa's Daughter (1964)
  • Helen (1966)
  • Torquemada (1966)
  • Sally (1967)
  • The Crossing (film) (1971)
  • The Hessian (1972)
  • The Immigrants (1977)
  • Second Generation (1978)
  • The Establishment (1979)
  • The Legacy (1981)
  • Max (1982)
  • The Outsider (1984)
  • The Immigrant's Daughter (1985)
  • The Dinner Party (1987)
  • The Pledge (1988)
  • The Confession of Joe Cullen (1989)
  • The Trial of Abigail Goodman (1993)
  • Seven Days in June (1994)
  • The Bridge Builder's Story (1995)
  • An Independent Woman (1997)
  • Redemption (1999)
  • Greenwich (2000) ISBN 0-15-100620-2
  • Bunker Hill (2001)

The Masao Masuto Mysteries (as E. V. Cunningham)

  • The Case of the Angry Actress (first titled Samantha 1967)
  • The Case of the One-Penny Orange (1977)
  • The Case of the Russian Diplomat (1978)
  • The Case of the Poisoned Eclairs (1979)
  • The Case of the Sliding Pool (1981)
  • The Case of the Kidnapped Angel (1982)
  • The Case of the Murdered Mackenzie (1984)

Short stories

  • Departure and Other Stories (1938 First printing; renewed 1977)
  • The First Men (1960)
  • The Large Ant (1960)
  • The Edge of Tomorrow (1961) (Science Fiction)
  • Time and the Riddle: 31 Zen Stories (1975)

Essays and articles

Film Scripts


  1. ^ Und Spartakus, Berliner Zeitung, 15 March 2003. "Aus Furcht vor dem "Communist Control Act" zog Howard Fast 1954 mit seiner Familie nach Teaneck, New Jersey, wo seine Kinder im Notfall bei den Großeltern verbleiben konnten."

External links


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