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Atomic Renaissance: American Women Mystery Writers of the 1940s and 1950s [Kindle Edition]

Jeffrey Marks
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $5.99


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Book Description

America in the 1950s was a place of Eisenhower, the Korean Conflict, McCarthy, and Sputnik. Women found themselves trapped into a mold of Donna Reed and June Cleaver, marginalized by the hyper-masculinity of the age. Mystery fiction had become a male bastion as well, promoting hardboiled private eye novels and spy fiction. It would be another three decades before groups to promote equality between the sexes in mystery fiction appeared.

Yet during that post-World War II era, seven women carved out a place in the genre. These women became the bestsellers of their time by innovation and experimentation. Margaret Millar, Patricia Highsmith, Leslie Ford, Charlotte Armstrong, Dorothy B. Hughes, Mignon Eberhart, and Phoebe Atwood Taylor are in no way similar to each other in style, theme, or subject matter. However, their writings created an Atomic Renaissance that continues to impact the mystery field today.

Editorial Reviews


ATOMIC RENAISSANCE is a must read for any mystery lover. -- Round Table Reviews, September 2003

Mr. Marks has the ability to write attention-grabbing non-fiction. --, Martha Hopkins

This is a book for readers willing to explore the roots of the mystery genre; -- I Love a, Bill Vande Water

About the Author

Jeffrey Marks was born in Georgetown, Ohio, the boyhood home of Ulysses S. Grant. Although he moved with his family at an early age, the family frequently told stories about Grant and the people of the small farming community.

At the age of twelve, he was introduced to the works of Agatha Christie via her short story collection, The Underdog and Other Stories. He finished all her books by the age of sixteen and had begun to collect mystery first editions.

After stints on the high school and college newspapers, he began to freelance. After numerous author profiles, he chose to chronicle the short but full life of mystery writer Craig Rice.

That biography (which came out in the US in April 2001 as Who Was That Lady?) encouraged him to write mystery fiction. The Ambush of My Name is the first mystery novel by Marks to be published although he has several mystery short story anthologies on the market. His work has won a number of awards including the Barnes and Noble Prize and he was nominated for a Maxwell award (DWAA), an Edgar (MWA), an Agatha (Malice Domestic) and an Anthony award (Bouchercon). Today, he writes from his home in Cincinnati, which he shares with his dog.

Product Details

  • File Size: 312 KB
  • Print Length: 182 pages
  • Publisher: Delphi Books; 1st edition (February 18, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00394F3RY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #449,867 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seven Women of Mystery July 30, 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book contains biographies of seven women whose writing careers reached their heights in the 40's and 50's.

The writers included are: Margaret Millar, Leslie Ford, Phoebe Atwood Taylor, Dorothy B. Hughes, Charlotte Armstrong, Patricia Highsmith, and Mignon G. Eberhart.

The lives are all interesting if you enjoy reading biography. The author has done a credible job of analysing the work of these women, summarizing the plots of their best work and also pointing out the shortcomings of the books that were not up to each woman's best effort. And, of course, he has included the usual biographical data, date and place of birth, family, education and awards. He has included a bibliography of each writer's work in their section, and a short list of the names of writers currently in publication who write in a similar style. Also, the book is fully indexed.

While I have read some work of at least five of the seven women, my favorite is Phoebe Atwood Taylor and her inclusion is the reason I bought the book. I have read and sometimes re-read all of her books. Her life had none of the drama of Millar's, for example, whose life had elements of tragedy and periods of anguish, or Highsmith, who was angry, usually lonely and who acknowledged being lesbian at the age of 69. I was saddened to read that of all these writers who garnered such awards as Mystery Writer's of America Grand Master (Millar) and two Edgars (Hughes) and the Malice Domestic Lifetime Acheivement (Eberhard) plus numerous others, Atwood Taylor received none, not even a nomination.

But then I was comforted by an imagined "tea" in the corner of heaven reserved for mystery writers.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Guy Knows His Stuff! March 26, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Jeffrey Marks' thesis might have been developed a little bit more, but in general you get the feeling his instincts are wholly on target, and that the explosion of the atom bomb is a potent analogue for the explosion of female thriller talent around the time of Second World War. Though several, in fact nearly all, of his seven chosen subjects began writing somewhat earlier. However, the seven women are so distinctive that I have trouble finding enough similarities to each other to prove any point one way or the other. Marks, whose biography of Craig Rice is one of the shining achievements of biography within the past 15 years, has worked up his research into a solid grab bag of amusing profiles, and he respects his readers enough to leave us wanting more, for each of the writers he surveys deserves a full length "life of her own."

He admits defeat in a few cases, and we never really get to know either Leslie Ford nor Phoebe Atwood Taylor very well--there just doesn't seem to be much of an "in" in either case. Readers have long wondered why Atwood Taylor abandoned writing right at the peak of her career and, even though she lived another 20 plus years, never touched a pen after her middle-aged marriage. Was she just tired of writing? Did she give up her career to please her husband? Did her husband provide her with enough money so she did not need to continue? Marks doesn't really know and neither do we. With Dorothy Hughes, and a similar career twist, Marks is on firmer ground--the demands of her family, and a subtle sort of "graylisting" connected to her left wing political affiliations, prevented her from writing fiction for years at a stretch.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atomic Renaissance April 13, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Atomic Renaissance is never too far away when I'm writing my mystery series, which is set in the 1950s. Jeff's book is more than a collection of biographies of women mystery writers from the 40s and 50s, it offers an in-depth and insightful view into the decade that stands as a turning point in the mystery genre. These seven women, Margaret Millar, Patricia Highsmith, Leslie Ford, Charlotte Armstrong, Dorothy B. Hughes, Mignon Eberhart, and Phoebe Atwood Taylor were the trailblazers of their time taking the mystery genre from private-eye stories to those with richer more modern themes that reflected the every-changing time. This book should be on the shelf of every mystery reader and writer. Kathleen Kaska
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting & Entertaining March 19, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I just got this book as a free selection today. I did enjoy this and the information the author gives not just on the seven women authors but in some cases, their spouses or other contacts and even inspirations who are in the writing business as well. The only thing is that I found parts of it hard to read. It seemed that the author told a very quick life story and then went back without warning to retell the events in detail. I tried to follow it and had to go back to read again certain passages and areas. The time lines did not stay consistent throughout which made it hard to follow. Otherwise I did enjoy the book and it has prompted me to look up some of the author's from yesteryear that I remember. It would be fun to read some of these novels- some for the first time and some for a second or third time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Atomic Renaissance
Fascinating biography of 7 women mystery authors of the 1940s and 1950s. I learned of this through Sarah Weinman's new book and enjoyed getting to know more about each of the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Renae Ratliff
5.0 out of 5 stars Seven authors not to be missed
Marks write about the works and lives of 7 American mystery authors. I hadn't heard of these, but plan on picking up some eBooks now that I've read about them.
Published 3 months ago by Melissa
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating look at forgotten authors
This was a great read. I enjoyed picking this book after reading Sarah Weinman's book that had stories by these same authors. Hope he does another book of these.
Published 3 months ago by Julie
2.0 out of 5 stars I was disappointed...
I thought I'd get to meet some amazing writers and experience their work, but the format of the book is too academic for my taste.
Published 5 months ago by Candy
5.0 out of 5 stars Insights Into The Past
Being an avid mystery fan, I really enjoyed glimpses into the personal lives of several favorite authors. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Diablo
5.0 out of 5 stars New old female authors
to add to my list. This book does a great job of going into detail about 7 woman mystery writers. There's a detailed list of their publications. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Coral Russell
1.0 out of 5 stars Might have value for someone, but I don't know who.
It's been awhile, and I admit I forgot it as soon as possible, but as I recall this book was supposed to be about women mystery-writers post "golden age". Read more
Published 20 months ago by Mary C. Hutchins
5.0 out of 5 stars bio-bibliography of 7 women mystery authors
In the 40s and 50s the 7 women mystery authors written about in this book were very popular w ith the American public. Read more
Published on March 29, 2012 by M. Poller
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough, Insightful and Entertaining
Jeffrey Marks has written a thorough, insightful and entertaining account of the lives and writings of seven prominent women mid-twentieth century mystery writers. Read more
Published on July 15, 2011 by William S. Shepard
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