Dashiell Hammett

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As a writer in the early 1900s, Dashiell Hammett, is credited with creating a new genre of literature known as fictional realism. Hammett's stories reflected the time he lived in, as he relied on personal experiences to make his novels come alive. Having worked as a detective and serving in the army, Hammett was able to bring an element of believability to his writings that touched on social issues including the differences between the classes and the greed of a corrupt society. While his novels were unique, his outspoken political ideas and opinions as an advocate for Socialism and his commitment to Communism and involvement with the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) overshadowed his literary talent and accomplishments.

Samuel Dashiell Hammett was born on May 27, 1894. Dashiell had very little education, leaving school when he was a young teen. Initially, he helped out in his family's business and later worked as a freight clerk, railroad employee, and a stevedore.

When Hammett was twenty, he took a job with the Pinkerton Detective Agency working on high profile cases including the Fatty Arbuckle rape case and the Anaconda Copper Mine strike. While he did not stay with Pinkerton for very long, Hammett referred to his time there when he needed material for his fictional writing. Hammett created more than seventy stories, most related to crime, in less than 15 years; his most famous work was The Maltese Falcon, but other works included The Thin Man and the Sam Spade radio series. "Hammett's career was meteoric and lucrative; but by 1934 most of his creative energy was spent…But political interests--especially the antifascism which engaged many writers of the time--were now occupying much of Hammett's time. He became a Marxist and by 1937 had joined the Communist party."

Although Hammett admitted to...