Vintage Pulp Sep 19 2023
Cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good.

We enjoyed an excellent tale not long ago in John and Ward Hawkins' natural disaster thriller A Man, a River, and a Girl, which was also published as The Floods of Fear by Corgi Books, as you see above. The striking art on this edition is by John Richards. You can read more about the book here


Vintage Pulp Jul 17 2023
When nature goes mad human nature follows suit.

As you probably know, we have an attraction to books set in tropical lands. We also, to a similar extent, are automatically drawn to books set during natural disasters. Examples include John D. MacDonald's Murder in the Wind, Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth's A Town Is Drowning, Louis A. Brennan's Death at Flood Tide, Theodore Pratt's Tropical Disturbance, and The Angry Mountain by Hammond Innes. John and Ward Hawkins' A Girl, a River, and Man is an addition to the collection. The book appeared in the above Popular Library edition in 1957, but had been originally published a year earlier as The Floods of Fear, and appeared even earlier in serial form in The Saturday Evening Post.

These two authors certainly know what they're about. A Girl, a River, and Man is propulsive, action packed, well characterized, and climaxes violently. The premise is that, during a major flood, a group of convicts pressed into service to reinforce a dike are caught by rising waters and swept away. Two convicts survive, along with a prison guard, and into the mix is thrown a woman unluckily stranded in the same area. The interaction between this group is volatile, to say the least. One convict, who's a career armed robber, wants simply to loot. The other, a murderer, wants to kill the person most responsible for sending him to jail. The prison guard, meanwhile, is obsessive about putting both jailbirds back into the joint—no matter the cost.

There's no mystery about the fact that the murderer may not have committed the crime—though prison has hardened him to the extent that he's a terrifying presence. His possible innocence becomes obvious early on, and it's the element that catalyzes the actions and reactions that energize the tale. As a magazine serial compiled into novel form, A Girl, a River, and Man is both short and filled with mini-climaxes that drive the reader inexorably toward the finale. There's more action packed into the story than any five typical 1950s-era novels. The Hawkins brothers falter slightly when dealing with the inevitable romantic subplot, but otherwise this is pure escapist adventure executed at a high level, and we recommend it strongly.


History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
September 30
1955—James Dean Dies in Auto Accident
American actor James Dean, who appeared in the films Giant, East of Eden, and the iconic Rebel without a Cause, dies in an auto accident at age 24 when his Porsche 550 Spyder is hit head-on by a larger Ford coupe. The driver of the Ford had been trying to make a left turn across the rural highway U.S. Route 466 and never saw Dean's small sports car approaching.
1962—Chavez Founds UFW
Mexican-American farm worker César Chávez founds the United Farm Workers in California. His strikes, marches and boycotts eventually result in improved working conditions for manual farm laborers and today his birthday is celebrated as a holiday in eight U.S. states.
September 29
1916—Rockefeller Breaks the Billion Barrier
American industrialist John D. Rockefeller becomes America's first billionaire. His Standard Oil Company had gained near total control of the U.S. petroleum market until being broken up by anti-trust legislators in 1911. Afterward, Rockefeller used his fortune mainly for philanthropy, and had a major effect on medicine, education, and scientific research.
September 28
1941—Williams Bats .406
Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox finishes the Major League Baseball season with a batting average of .406. He is the last player to bat .400 or better in a season.
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