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Hardboiled: An Anthology of American Crime Stories Hardcover – May 18, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Prolific anthologist and mystery writer Pronzini (the Nameless Detective series) and Adrian (Detective Stories for the Strand) have compiled a superb anthology of gritty crime fiction. Grouped by decade, from the 1920s to the '90s, the stories sample some of the best crime writers, many of whom cut their teeth on pulp, including Dashiell Hammett, Ross Macdonald, Mickey Spillane, James M. Cain, Elmore Leonard, Evan Hunter (aka Ed McBain), James Ellroy, Andrew Vachss and Lawrence Block. Some of the older tales, like Hammett's plot-heavy, trick-ending "The Scorched Face," haven't aged well. Others, like Macdonald's "Guilt-Edged Blonde," a Lew Archer story, and Leonard's "3:10 to Yuma," a taut tale of a marshal escorting a convicted robber to prison, still impress in this account of the evolution of an American popular art form.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

If jazz is America's contribution to music, then hard-boiled crime fiction is its literary equivalent. These 36 selections represent the best of the genre's short form. The editors, both well respected in the field, have included plenty of big names but also have chosen some less famous but very talented writers. The pieces are arranged chronologically, and the editors provide concise literary biographies for each contributor. Among the most famous names are Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, Mickey Spillane, and Jim Thompson. Surprise entries include Elmore Leonard's western story "3:10 to Yuma." A western? Read it, and you'll understand why you don't need neon lights to generate hard-boiled atmosphere. Other highlights include Andrew Vachss' nasty exercise in self-preservation, and Ed Gorman's modern morality play in which the villains are weakness and lust, not thugs with guns. A wonderfully evil collection. Wes Lukowsky
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 532 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition edition (May 18, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195084993
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195084993
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,305,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Brian D. Rubendall HALL OF FAME on January 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
"Hard Boiled" is an absolutely first rate collection of short stories by some of the best AND least known writers of the genre. One of its two editors, Bill Pronzini, is an avid collector of the old Pulp magazines as well as being one of the best hard-boiled writers working today (he's the author of the excellent "Nameless" detective series). He and co-editor Jack Adrian really know their stuff, as they show with an extensive introduction that explains in detail the history of the genre. They also provide good introductions for each individual writer, both the famous and the not-so famous, to give the reader a good perspective of where each author was coming from.
The stories themselves are grouped by the decade in which they were published. The 1930s and 1950s are the most heavily represented because, the editors explain, they were the peak decades for hard-boiled fiction in terms of both poularity and quality. The book covers the 1920s to the 1990s.
Overall, this is an excellent book for anyone who enjoys good crime stories.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wischmeyer on May 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Hard-Boiled American crime fiction is Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, John D. MacDonald, Ross Macdonald, Mickey Spillane, and many less familiar authors. The hard-boiled American crime fiction never really took root in Great Britain. Sam Spade was popular on the screen, but less so in the London bookstore. I was surprised to discover that the prestigious Oxford University Press had published this anthology of American crime fiction.
What is hard-boiled crime fiction? According to the editors Bill Pronzini and Jack Adrian, hard-boiled crime stories deal with disorder, disaffection, and dissatisfaction. The reader encounters a jaundiced view of government, power, and the law. The protagonist, sometimes a woman, is a social misfit, a loner. Most stories are reflective of their times, windows into history that offer the perspective of individuals that inhabited a particular, often unsavory locale.
Some of the stories in this remarkable collection appear in other anthologies, but others are rarely encountered. Pronzini and Adrian have arranged these short stories chronologically, beginning with Hammett's The Scorched Face (1926).
Each story is introduced by a thoughtful preface. I gradually developed an understanding and appreciation for this uniquely American genre. Many of these entries qualify as pulp fiction; most are without any literary pedigree. And yet, this collection makes good reading. Entertainment, suspense, riveting characters, and a little cultural history are blended together. I highly recommend this anthology.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Nott on February 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
Hard Boiled is the greatest crime anthology that I have read. It's full to the brim with great stories and has writers from every decade some well kown some not. Some great stories are Dashiell Hammet's The Scorched Face, Roul Whitfield's Misteral, James M Cain's Brush Fire, Chester Himes Marijuana and a Pistol and Jim Thompson's Forever After. It also has a great introduction. I seriously suggest you buy this book
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Reney O. on August 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is exactly what I was looking for- an anthology of the pioneers of the hardboiled detective, both famous and not; also, stories that are as short, intriguing, and as satisfying as Doyle's Sherlock Holmes mysteries. The editors behind Hard-Boiled smartly chose stories that weren't based on reputation, but on their actual quality. Basically they made this book thinking, "If we had to fit what we felt were the best of American Crime Fiction, which stories should we share with the readers?" I love the stories they chose and I wouldn't change a thing!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 24, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Pronzini and Adrian have chosen the best Crime Fiction short stories around. And even better, they provide historical perspectives and summaries of the works of the authors. I purchased the book not just to reread, but to have as a reference for which books of each author to read, and in what order. The best crime fiction anthology ever.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By GWERT on July 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In an era of widespread cynicism it's good to know that there are still idealists out there. They may not be saints, but they're usually on the good side. And in this fantastic collection of crime stories you won't be bored. Many of these authors have appeared elsewhere, such as Ellery Queen or Hitchcock. But Pronzini & Adrian selected stories that have an edge to them. Like San Francisco in the early days...Worth it to own, because you'll read it again!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 9, 1997
Format: Hardcover
If you love the fiction of the Hard Boiled Genre then Hard Boiled is a must for your collection. If you are just interested theres no better place to start. Taunt stories by authors great and small will provide hours of entertainment and the editors notes a tremendous resource in locating more material.
A personal favorite is
So cold , So pale, So Fair,
Liegh Brackett
Please read and enjoy
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R Hall on November 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read crime fiction most of the time. This is the first crime noir that I have read in a long time. I was a law-enforcement student in college and learned only current procedures and jargon as they were in the late 1960s. I had to work a bit to "get" everything in these stories, but I enjoyed them very much.
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