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For more than forty years, since the day her illustrious father died, Jo Hammett has kept her silence. Now, for the first time, with uncompromising candor and profound admiration, she tells the story of Dashiell Hammett—Hollywood screenwriter and high-flying author of The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man—as she knew him. In Jo Hammett’s earliest recollections, although her already famous father exists outside the sphere of the daily life she shares with her mother and sister, he writes to Jo frequently and visits when he can. Jo’s memories of him are golden: She recalls a trip to the Santa Anita racetrack in a chauffeur-driven limousine, where Hammett plays more on the horses than he can afford; she recalls a Depression-era excursion to Beverly Hills and a splurge that would have supported an entire family for a month—on a riding outfit. With more ambivalence, she remembers the 1950s, when she assumes her responsibility as the sole designated correspondent with her blacklisted, imprisoned father and her…[more]
A literary event: The first-ever selection from the letters of Dashiell Hammett, the genius of American crime fiction.
More than any book before it, this one gives us the complete Hammett, in his own words. Here is Hammett the family man, distant but devoted, sometimes late with the check but never too late; Hammett the student of politics, scanning the headlines from a Marxist perspective; Hammett the lover of Lillian Hellman, delighting in her style, humor, accomplishments but maintaining his independence. Celebrity, soldier, activist, survivor—Hammett was each in turn, but he was always, above all else, a writer. The artist is present in every line, and this book adds to his stature as a classic American writer.