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Dashiell Hammett: Crime Stories and Other Writings Hardcover – Sep 10 2001

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 934 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America (Sept. 10 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931082006
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931082006
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.8 x 20.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #374,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Steven Marcus is the author of Dickens: From Pickwick to Dombey and Freud and the Culture of Psychoanalysis and editor of The Life and Works of Sigmund Freud. His work has appeared in many periodicals, including Commentary, The New York Review of Books, Partisan Review, and The New Statesman.

From Library Journal

Hammett is hot: besides this collection, a new book of his letters is now available, and a scholarly biography is forthcoming. This anthology binds 24 of his top stories in their original form sans editorial cuts plus an early take on The Thin Man and some other goodies. This is a great companion to the publisher's 1999 release of Hammett's Complete Novels and is essential for all libraries.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
First they claim to have all of Raymond Chandler's stories in one volume. They don't, four are missing, and just happen to be the ones most sought after by true fans. Not to mention the eight they admit to omitting. They're excuse? Considerations for length and theme, it's true that three of the missing four are not mysteries, and that is what makes them unique. But why did they leave out "The Pencil"? The length problem could have been solved by omitting the section of Chandler's letters, there are whole volumes dedicated to those. And they could have cut some of the essays that are also included in other volumes, and replaced them with other essays that are rotting away in issues of the Atlantic Monthly. And they could have omitted the "Double Indemnity script and repalced it with "The Blue Dahlia" which is out of print.
That is how they messed up their "definative"' collection of Chandler and they seem to have made worse editing choices with their collection of Hammmett's stories. The way it stands now, if you want every story Hammett wrote you must buy this book. It includes five stories that appear to be collected here for the first time. But, then you'll have to buy "Nightmare Town" and the "Big Knockover". Why did LOA do it this way? Why not omit the four stories already available in "Nightmare Town" amd replace them with the three that are missing from "The Big Knockover"? That way if you bought "Nightmare Town" you'd have the twelve remaining stories and you're collection is complete. If they were strapped for space they could omit the 58 page typescript for "'The Thin Man".
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Format: Hardcover
I debated whether this should be 3 stars or 4, and decided on 4 because of the creative plots and characters. Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) dropped out of school at the age of 15, working at a variety of jobs before joining the Pinkerton Dectective Agency at the age of 21, working there before and after his service in the US Army during World War I. He came down with TB in the Army, and continuing illnesses made it difficult for him to work, so he became a writer. He is best known for the "Maltese Falcon" and other novels. He died penniless, largely due to judgements by the IRS for unpaid income taxes.
It is apparent from some of the other reviews that reviewers are unfamiliar with the process of publishing a collection. There are copyrights involved, and it is necessary to obtain permission from the copyright holders, often a different publisher (which may or may not be forthcoming). There are also fees payable to copyright holders, and demands sometimes make it impractical to include material (I am speaking from personal experience).
This collection contains 24 shorter stories originally published between 1923 and 1934, mainly in "Black Mask," with one each from "Argosy," "Mystery Stories," "Liberty," and "Colliers." The 20 stories from "Black Mask" feature the Continental Op, a detective from the Continental Detective Agency who is described as fat but never identified by name - call him "the Fat Man" for purposes of reference. The stories are in narrative form, as told by the main character. There is also an early typescript of "The Thin Man," various notes by the author, and biographical material on his life.
Rather than being literary masterpieces, these stories were written as entertainment for the masses.
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Format: Hardcover
The Library of America did an excellent job with its Raymond Chandler volumes, which lacked only the "cannibalized" stories that Chandler himself asked not to be reprinted, but I can't say the same for its new (and final) volume of Dashiell Hammett.
Of the three Hammett short story collections on my shelves, this volume replaces one: THE CONTINENTAL OP, which happened to be edited by Steven Marcus, the editor of the Library of America volume. It includes only 5 of the 20 selections in the recent NIGHTMARE TOWN repackaging; from THE BIG KNOCKOVER it leaves out "The Gatewood Caper," "Corkscrew" (the Continental Op goes cowboy!), and, most unforgivably, "Tulip," an autobiographical meditation on storytelling which is the only sizable chunk of Hammett's postwar writing ever to surface. It does include "Woman in the Dark," currently in print as a slim single volume, dropping its subtitle ("A Novel of Dangerous Romance"); there may be good textual reasons for that decision, but they aren't described in this edition's notes.
Nice to get this work on acid-free paper, but the Library of America is intended to produce authoritative editions. It's unfortunate if predictable that this goal is forgotten when the series takes on the work which needs such attention most: that which hasn't already received the scholarly text treatment.
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Format: Hardcover
Dashiell Hammett was the celebrated author and experienced detective who has been acclaimed as the father of the American hardboiled crime novel. This anthology of his work proves him to be a master of short stories as well. His tales, originally written for pulp magazines such as Black Mask in the 1920's and 1930's, drew upon the realities of American streets and American speech to create adventures felt and sounded truly real. This comprehensive collection from the original texts as they appeared in the pulps is free of the cuts and revisions imposed by later editors. In addition to 24 stories, Dashiell Hammett: Crime Stories And Other Writings also contains essays and an early version of Hammett's novel "The Thin Man." Dashiell Hammett: Crime Stories And Other Writings is an undeniable "must" for any mystery buff!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa22cc15c) out of 5 stars 17 reviews
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa22bfba0) out of 5 stars Large Collection of Hammett Stories in One Enduring Volume. Aug. 16 2004
By mirasreviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"Crime Stories and Other Writings" contains 24 short stories and 3 additional selections, arranged chronologically, which Dashiell Hammett wrote between 1923 and 1934. The stories all first appeared in pulp fiction magazines and span all but one year of the master of detective fiction's career. "Crime Stories" offers three stories which cannot be found in any other volume currently in print: "Arson Plus" and "Slippery Finger", which were first published in "Black Mask" magazine under the pseudonym Peter Collinson, and "Creeping Siamese". These stories all feature the Continental Op detective, an always nameless, stubbornly practical character whom Hammett based on a fellow detective from his days at Pinkerton Detective Agency, Jimmy Wright, and on himself. Nineteen of this book's stories feature the Continental Op, making it the largest collection of Op stories available. Among the best of these are "Zig Zags of Treachery", "The House on Turk Street", "The Whosis Kid", and "The Big Knockover". "The Girl with the Silver Eyes" is a follow-up to "The House on Turk Street", so be sure to read "Turk Street" first. "The Big Knockover" and "$106,000 Blood Money" were originally a two-parter, but were published as a single novella in 1943. As their styles differ somewhat, the stories are more successful when separated, as they are here. The story called "Women, Politics and Murder" in this volume has been called "Death on Pine Street" in other volumes; they're the same story. It's interesting to note that "Fly Paper" was inspired by two real cases of murder that employed the same peculiar method. Among the five stories that do not feature the Continental Op is the novella "Woman in the Dark". It's mediocre, but has often been published as a stand-alone volume.

The three "Other Writings" to which the book's title refers are: "The Thin Man: An Early Typescript", "From the Memoirs of a Private Detective", and "Suggestions to Detective Story Writers". The early version of "The Thin Man" was written in 1930, four years before the final product was to be published and bears only the most superficial resemblance to the now-famous sleuthing of Nick and Nora Charles. It's a good story that introduces a new detective, John Guild of the Associated Detective Bureau. That it was never finished is regrettable. "From the Memoirs of a Private Detective" is 29 short anecdotes and words of wisdom gained from Hammett's experience as a real detective, first published in "The Smart Set" in 1923. Some of these are very funny. In "Suggestions to Detective Story Writers", Hammett, frustrated by the abundant inaccuracies in detective fiction written by non-detectives, sets the record straight on 24 common errors. This was first published in "The New York Post" in 1930 and is interesting, if out of date at this point. Editor Stephen Marcus has included a Chronology of the important events in Dashiell Hammett's life in the back of the book, as well as explanations of potentially cryptic slang terms and period references in "Notes", also found in the back.

With 24 short stories and 3 additional pieces of writing, "Crime Stories and Other Writings" is the most comprehensive single volume of Dashiell Hammett's short fiction available. Hats off to the Library of America for publishing 3 stories that are not currently found in any other volume. Unfortunately, you will still have to buy all four collections of Hammett's short stories to get all available stories: this one plus "Nightmare Town" from Knopf and "The Continental Op" and "The Big Knockover" from Vintage Crime. If you don't care to have every story, but would like a sizable sampling that includes some of Hammett's best, "Crime Stories and Other Writings" is an excellent choice. It contains the largest number of stories, presented in an attractive compact hardback volume and printed on thin acid-free paper, making it far more durable than other collections. This is a nice volume for both the casually curious and the addicted Dashiell Hammett fan.
56 of 64 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa22bfbf4) out of 5 stars A muffed opportunity Oct. 16 2001
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The Library of America did an excellent job with its Raymond Chandler volumes, which lacked only the "cannibalized" stories that Chandler himself asked not to be reprinted, but I can't say the same for its new (and final) volume of Dashiell Hammett.
Of the three Hammett short story collections on my shelves, this volume replaces one: THE CONTINENTAL OP, which happened to be edited by Steven Marcus, the editor of the Library of America volume. It includes only 5 of the 20 selections in the recent NIGHTMARE TOWN repackaging; from THE BIG KNOCKOVER it leaves out "The Gatewood Caper," "Corkscrew" (the Continental Op goes cowboy!), and, most unforgivably, "Tulip," an autobiographical meditation on storytelling which is the only sizable chunk of Hammett's postwar writing ever to surface. It does include "Woman in the Dark," currently in print as a slim single volume, dropping its subtitle ("A Novel of Dangerous Romance"); there may be good textual reasons for that decision, but they aren't described in this edition's notes.
Nice to get this work on acid-free paper, but the Library of America is intended to produce authoritative editions. It's unfortunate if predictable that this goal is forgotten when the series takes on the work which needs such attention most: that which hasn't already received the scholarly text treatment.
37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2311048) out of 5 stars What's wrong with the Library of America? Sept. 10 2002
By Kristopher Haines - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
First they claim to have all of Raymond Chandler's stories in one volume. They don't, four are missing, and just happen to be the ones most sought after by true fans. Not to mention the eight they admit to omitting. They're excuse? Considerations for length and theme, it's true that three of the missing four are not mysteries, and that is what makes them unique. But why did they leave out "The Pencil"? The length problem could have been solved by omitting the section of Chandler's letters, there are whole volumes dedicated to those. And they could have cut some of the essays that are also included in other volumes, and replaced them with other essays that are rotting away in issues of the Atlantic Monthly. And they could have omitted the "Double Indemnity script and repalced it with "The Blue Dahlia" which is out of print.
That is how they messed up their "definative"' collection of Chandler and they seem to have made worse editing choices with their collection of Hammmett's stories. The way it stands now, if you want every story Hammett wrote you must buy this book. It includes five stories that appear to be collected here for the first time. But, then you'll have to buy "Nightmare Town" and the "Big Knockover". Why did LOA do it this way? Why not omit the four stories already available in "Nightmare Town" amd replace them with the three that are missing from "The Big Knockover"? That way if you bought "Nightmare Town" you'd have the twelve remaining stories and you're collection is complete. If they were strapped for space they could omit the 58 page typescript for "'The Thin Man".
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2311408) out of 5 stars A flawed human being, but gifted writer Oct. 20 2013
By Gabriel Valjan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I purchased this volume to have Dash in one volume. He influenced Hemingway. Not the other way around. So said Gertrude Stein and I'm not inclined to argue with the lady. I've also read Richard Layman's Shadow Man and DH was both self-destructive and idealistic. The Hellman introductory essay in The Big Knockover is also worth reading. I do find it sad that Dash felt that he would not be remembered, not considered a "real writer" because he chose to write crime fiction, as opposed to high-brow literary fiction.
HASH(0xa23114ec) out of 5 stars Pulp fiction as good as it gets: The Continental Op Jan. 25 2014
By Swordsman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There's not a Mt. Rushmore of American private eyes but Hammett's Continental Op wouldn't be one of the faces on it if there was. That's because he's a modest, faceless everyman though he's hardly anonymous or devoid of personality. I prefer the Op over Hammett's more infamous creation Sam Spade. That probably puts me in the minority, but I don't mind. Spade is not a particularly nice guy, on the other hand the Op is a regular Jack-the-lad, his voice like that of an old friend's to the reader. Even though he's a Roaring Twenties lawman who breaks heads and takes names he turns a blind eye to Prohibition, as eager to go into a speakeasy as the next man. It's worth mentioning there's a lot more Continental Op material than there is about Spade too, about six times as much. Fully two thirds of Hammett's crime fiction starred our man from the Continental Detective Agency instead of falcon statuettes, glass keys and thin men.

DASHIELL HAMMETT: CRIME STORIES AND OTHER WRITINGS collects two dozen of the 36 stories Hammett published about the Continental Op, most of them novelettes. And distinguished, authoritative writing it is. The novels RED HARVEST and THE DAIN CURSE initially consisted of four Op novelettes apiece. I personally have never seen any of those eight segments published home or abroad in their original standalone form (and I've looked). That leaves only four other stories to collect if you want them all on your shelf. Three are easy to source. That fourth and elusive final Op caper, available nowhere but THE RETURN OF THE CONTINENTAL OP (1945), cost me as much as I paid for this volume! 'Death and Company' is, ultimately and unfortunately, for only the most diehard of collectors, a disappointing seven-page vignette. Beyond a shadow of a doubt the weakest entry in the Op's otherwise superlative casebook, it's unsurprising it's uncollected with the others. With the exception of 'This King Business' all 36 stories first appeared in Black Mask, the most feted extinct pulp magazine this side of the equally defunct Weird Tales. THE MALTESE FALCON also debuted in the Mask's pages before Knopf brought it out in hardcover; they'd already published HARVEST and DAIN.

If you're reading this you probably appreciate the exploits of the Op, one of the pioneering first person hardboiled American private dicks, but not the first. Carroll John Daly's 'Three Gun Terry' sneaked onto Black Mask's table of contents months ahead of the Op. Terry Mack is Daly's pilot fish for his enormously popular Race Williams character, a homicidal maniac who rationalizes his shooting sprees as private detecting. The name of one of the stories in DASHIELL HAMMETT: CRIME STORIES AND OTHER WRITINGS is `Bodies Piled Up,' a title as gruesome as Daly's `The False Burton Combs' is clever for its misdirection. I shan't give away its secret to the few who've not read it. Cap Shaw didn't suffer journalistic fools lightly and even though he hated Daly's stuff he published it anyway because a Race Williams yarn touted on the Mask's cover boosted sales by 10,000 issues. Daly's stories are ridiculous enough to be farces, glutted with a toughness as counterfeit as a schoolboy's playground bluster. In his lifetime Daly enjoyed more glory in Black Mask than Hammett, but in the long run the Hammett legacy enjoys more success and respect, not that that ever does deceased authors any good. This is not to say Daly's writing sucks, it often makes for entertaining lightweight reading, but it's all hat and no cattle. The Op's romps in the Mask are steeped in a realism still resonant and relevant. If I may borrow a phrase from Hollywood Detective Dan Turner, the Op's adventures are as serious as `a rodney probing [one's] sacroiliac.'

Hammett's strengths as a storyteller and prose stylist as well as his background with Pinkerton's enabled his work to endure. On a side note, Lillian Hellman claimed Hammett didn't work for the agency for as long as he often alluded to. His own publisher Knopf hailed him as better than Hemingway, a conceit, of course, but one I happen to agree with. I'll take Hammett's drunken private eyes and femme fatales over Hemingway's drunken sportsmen and forlorn expatriates anytime. Not to rip on Papa, but why read something to depress yourself? Hemingway's characters don't liberate and lift the spirit the way Hammett's do. To this day Hammett's influence on mystery novelists remains immense, justifying the mythic proportions of his literary reputation.

Every Op story in DASHIELL HAMMETT: CRIME STORIES AND OTHER WRITINGS is good, if not great. In the product department the consumer gets his money's worth, excellent fiction on nice paper expensively bound. Library of America puts together handsome well-constructed editions designed to be read often and resist as much manhandling as an old medical desk reference printed in the forties. The quality of Library of America's books cannot be overemphasized; I own other collections from this same house, their books are built to last and can handle wear and tear. And they don't have those godawful Deckle edges.


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