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A Child of the Century Paperback – May 30, 1985


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 654 pages
  • Publisher: Primus (Donald I. Fine) Plume (May 30, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0917657411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0917657412
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #575,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Dewey a good guy; FDR a bum!
flutemuse
This book should be must reading by anyone who aspires to be a writer.
babyboomerlarry
The book needs to be put back in print.
R. Martenis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Stamper VINE VOICE on September 24, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Roger Ebert prints Hecht's Hollywood memories in his Book of Film anthology, so I bought CHILD OF THE CENTURY expecting to read more about his movie experiences. I had no idea that it was a short portion of the book or that Hecht had such an interesting life without his Hollywood experience. I certainly wasn't prepared for something so literary, adventurous and humorous. It's a rare autobiography in that a person who had never heard of Hecht could still enjoy the book all the way through.

Shorter attention spans might not want to spend the time to read all 600 pages, but luckily several sections can be enjoyed independently of the book as a whole. Besides Hollywood you can't miss his reflections as a young newsman in Chicago to his eventual foreign correspondent role in Germany during the early 1920s. He has enough stories in this ten year period that you'd think it took 30 years to live.

His shorter New York period and collaboration with Charles MacArthur are not to be missed either. The funniest part may be his involvement in a south Florida real estate scam. The book ends with his involvement with Zionism and the creation of Israel. He not only taught me history of the time, but I was surprised how controversial he was in places like Great Britain. If you read any of those sections first, I tend to think you'll go back to the beginning not to miss everything else.

CHILD OF THE CENTURY is the best autobiography of a Hollywood figure that I have ever read.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Ronald T. McCoy on October 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
Ben Hecht is a virtually forgotten figure today. No matter. This is one of the best autobiographies ever written...EVER. You don't even have to be interested in the period or people he covers in order to be drawn into the story. For aspring writers: read this, and then try and figure out how he puts it all together. This is (a) a wonderful story; (b) a brilliant piece of writing; and (c) a marvelous read. Why in god's (gods'?) name is it out of print??????
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By James Bass on May 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ben Hecht lived so many fascinating lives: a Chicago newspaperman in the wild days, a Hollywood screenwriter (check out his credits on IMDB -- its amazing), a flim-flammer during the Florida land boom, a foreign correspondent in Weimar Germany, and later, a figure in the creation of Israel. And he's a crisp, unsentimental writer who knows how to tell a story. This book should not be out of print. I've read it twice and won't loan my copy to anyone.

UPDATE March 2013: This book has long been out of print, which is absurd in this era of e-books. Fortunately someone has been working on converting Ben Hecht's works to digital formats and Amazon now has a few of his books for free on Kindle. Many thanks to those who participated in that. Let's hope Child of the Century is next.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Donald Frades on February 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
What is this book doing out of print? I know very little about Ben Hecht outside of what he's told me in this book, but I'm fascinated by his method and style in putting together his autobiography, including his early chapter excusing his lack of fame, and foretelling his own future anonymity! Get this book back into print and back in front of the readers! Hecht knew everyone and did everything, from 20's Chicago to 50's TV. What a guy!
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Format: Paperback
This book is a surprise. It is so good , so filled with a spirit of adventure and humor. It is rich in speculation and thought, a true meditation on life, in many ways. Hecht was born and grew up in Racine, Wisconsin. He was especially close to his mother who owned a dress shop and was quite a formidable person herself. But he as a child and young person was difficult to hold down, an all- around lover of life, chasing women and engaging in all kinds of Huckleberry Finn- Tom Sawyer like adventures. At sixteen he goes to university which he leaves after a few days. He then goes on to Chicago where a relative gets him a job on a Chicago daily newspaper. There his spirit of adventure truly thrives as he has to at first go out and get sensational pictures about sensational happenings. He gradually works his way into writing and covers all aspects of the life of the city, low to high and back again. He will eventually make his real name in writing and become perhaps the most famous and legendary of all American screenwriters. The list of his credits ( He won the first screen- writing Oscar) is enormous and encompasses almost every genre of film-making. One of the greatest sections in this book is when he tells the story of the members of his extended family. He does this with great narrative skill, real humor and emotional strength. As he says he loved them all so much, and they gave him so much that when he later became a heroic fighter for the establishment of a Jewish State, it was more because of his love for them than for any purely political reason. This book actually feels a number of books in one as Hecht was a person who lived many different kinds of lives.Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. Martenis on February 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Even though this book was published in 1954 (Hecht was 60), I had never heard of author, I am not a movie fan, and the book is almost 600 pages; I could not put it down and would have liked to read much more from his life. It turns out that the author wasn't much of a movie fan either, although he wrote and collaborated on dozens of movies besides writing newspaper articles, short stories and books his whole life. He was a Jew in name and family only, but took up the Jewish cause in WW2 and early Israel founding and fund raising.

His writing style and attitude on life were most enjoyable to me. He seemingly has no vanity or ego; he made a lot of money writing but spent it as soon as he made it and didn't go back to work until he needed more. He only spent time in Hollywood writing to make enough money to return to New York to live the rest of the year.

His early life as a reporter in Chicago, his two years in Germany after WW1, involvement in Florida real estate boom in 1920's, his movie career, and especially his involvement in Jewish affairs during WW2 and 1950's all could be separate and complete volumes.

He doesn't hesitate to give his opinion on everything from relatives, working, children, marriage, religion and existence of God (God exists but He/She/It is still working on the "human" model- it is far from perfect), and after many years of assisting Jews in getting a homeland, Ben finally got so disgusted with their inability to work together (which created violence against each other) that he gave up.

The book needs to be put back in print.

P.S. - I just finished reading "Perfidy" by Ben Hecht, he goes into Israeli history and tells an amazing, little known story (apparently Israel tried to quash this) of deceit and abandonment of Holocaust victims by British, American, and Israeli 'elites'. "Perfidy" is a great must-read, with or without this volume.
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