Sunday, February 08, 2009

Harry S. Truman and Adventure

I seem to be taking more posts from other venues than write them myself, but when interesting things come up, I can't resist.
Here's Walker Martin on the pulp magazine, Adventure, and the US president Harry S. Truman. It's part of a discussion that started when someone had read that president Roosevelt had organized a writing contest for one of the detective pulps (turned out it was published as a serial in Liberty, which definitely wasn't a pulp, and later published as a book under the title of The President's Mystery Story; it was a so-called round robin novel, in which several known writers took turns writing the book).

I've also heard that Roosevelt read pulps, also Ike. But Harry Truman definitely read pulps. I have DEAR BESS, which is a collection of letters from Truman to his wife, 1910-1959. ADVENTURE MAGAZINE is listed in the index ten times. The magazine was evidently a favorite and Truman mentions it for the first time in 1911 and it is still mentioned 30 years later in 1941. In one 1911 letter he says "Adventure is the only magazine printed on cheap paper that I can read." In 1912 he mentions how his mother got scared reading a story in the magazine. In another letter he complains about serials in ADVENTURE and how he hates waiting 30 days for the next installment.

In 1913 he relates "I bought an Adventure last night and entertained myself with bloodcurdling stories on the train so I'd feel nice and comfortable..." More than once he mentions how a story in another magazine was good enough to appear in ADVENTURE.

Truman's love for the magazine only backs up the editors often mentioned fact that ADVENTURE was read by a wide spectrum of professional people including doctors, businessmen, lawyers, and government workers. Not to mention military men and typical tropical tramps (or as Adventure termed them TTT).


Walker Martin said...

I'm always impressed when I stumble across the fact that some unusual or influential person read the pulps. Another example would be Ludwig Wittgenstein, the influential philosopher.

In the book by Norman Malcolm, LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN: A MEMOIR, there are letters showing that Wittgenstein was a fan of Norbert Davis. A 1948 letter mentions Davis and how the philosopher likes detective magazines. He evidently was a reader of Street and Smith's Detective Story Magazine. He mentions how he likes the pulp more that the professional journals that he read.

Juri said...

Yes, it's very interesting. There's a good article on Wittgenstein and hardboiled literature on Mystery*File. I think it's this:

Juri said...

Wittgenstein also liked B-westerns.