Biography (Critical Survey of Mystery & Detective Fiction, Revised Edition)
E. V. Cunningham was born Howard Melvin Fast in New York City on November 11, 1914, the son of Barney Fast and Ida Miller Fast. Educated at George Washington High School and the National Academy of Design in New York, he later worked at odd jobs and was a page at the New York Public Library while working on his first novel. In 1933, he received the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Award. On June 6, 1937, he married Bette Cohen; they had two children, Rachel and Jonathan. From 1942 to 1943, Cunningham served overseas with the Office of War Information. In 1944, while with an Army film project, he became a war correspondent; in 1945, he became a foreign correspondent for Esquire and Coronet.
Cunningham had a long career as prolific writer, lecturer, and political activist. His early novels, written as Fast, focused primarily on the Revolutionary War, and The Last Frontier (1941) received particular praise as a taut and moving story of the abuse and extermination of three hundred Cheyenne. These provocative works tried to humanize history and historical figures, from George Washington to Thomas Paine, admitting their weaknesses and demonstrating the processes that led them to greatness.
In 1943, Cunningham’s antifascist feeling, which had led him to work in a hospital for wounded Spanish Republicans during the Spanish Civil War, led him to the communist cause; during this period, he created one-dimensional,...
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