Literature, Film and More from Waverly Books
By Michael Stillman
Waverly Books has published its List 162, a collection of 183 items. The focus for Waverly is on literature, particularly first editions, and items related to film, art and photography. Of course, there are other subjects served as well. Here are a few of the items offered in this month's catalogue.
Melvin Van Peebles was at the forefront of African-American film development in the 1970s. He was a pioneer in films not just about African-Americans, but films created and directed by them. You can add acting, writing and musical composing to his achievements. Younger readers may be more familiar with his son Mario, who continues the acting and directing tradition. However, before Van Peebles made it in film, he drove a cable car in San Francisco for a living. In 1957, he wrote a book about these trolleys, called The Big Heart. He saw the cable car as being something like a heart, pumping its passengers along the city's arteries. The book includes photographs by Ruth Bernhard, who has inscribed this copy. Item 131. Priced at $375.
Item 102 is the fictionalized biography Pretty Boy Floyd, by renowned writer and bookseller Larry McMurtrey and Diana Ossana. Charles Arthur Floyd was an Oklahoma farm boy when he took to making a living the easy way in the 1920s - robbing banks. He was not known as an intellectual, but was a charming, handsome and youthful looking man, hence the moniker (reportedly, Charles Arthur did not like the nickname). He became something of a folk hero for his exploits and charm. Of course, during the Depression, banks were even less popular than criminals in Oklahoma. However, the nature of his crimes ratcheted up, as Floyd became involved in several killings. He began working his way up the FBI's most wanted list, and when John Dillinger fell in a hail of gunfire, Floyd became number one. The honor would not last long. A couple months later in 1934, Pretty Boy was himself shot down as he tried to run from police in a field behind an Ohio farmstead. This copy of Floyd's story has been signed by both authors McMurtrey and Ossana. $50.
Item 83 is a prize-winning but relatively obscure book from 1982 that became one of the greatest films of the 1990s: Schindler's Ark. Thomas Keneally's book became better known as a film, with "ark" changed to "list." The story of Oskar Schindler won the Oscar for best picture in 1993. Schindler was a flawed and unremarkable businessman for most of his life. Through the liberal use of bribes and membership in the Nazi Party, he set up shop as a war profiteer in occupied Poland. He hired Jews to work in his factory as their labor came cheaply. However, as Schindler witnessed the atrocities of the Nazis, something happened to him. His focus switched from his personal financial interests to saving the lives of his Jewish workers. By war's end, he had lost his fortune, spent on bribes to save his workers, over a thousand of whom survived because of Schindler's remarkable efforts. $200.
The horrors of Nazi Germany were so immense that the first great war has been somewhat overlooked. For those looking for a Pulitzer Prize winning account, by the General who led America's forces in the First World War, item 183 is a copy of John J. "Black Jack" Pershing's My Experiences in the World War. This two-volume retrospective was published in 1931. Many of those who led American forces in the Second World War learned their trade under Pershing, whose rank of General of the Armies is the highest rank ever awarded by the military. $200.
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