Crime writer Sara Paretsky, creator of detective V.I.Warshawski, has written a stimulating article entitled Mean Streets in the Guardian today.
Ms Paretsky discussed the writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder, James Fennimore Cooper, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and their influence on American culture and the myth of the lone hero. I learned a lot particularly about the life of Dashiell Hammett, and his detective Sam Spade. Her comparison of VI Warshawski with the arch loner Chandler's Phillip Marlowe was also of interest. Ms Paretsky does not hide her political views, and her contempt for the "cowboys gone bad."
"Hammett created raw individualists who cared for nobody. Chandler reclothed these hard- boiled, amoral men with the trappings of the old cowboy chivalry of Natty Bumpo [Leatherstocking;James Fennimore Cooper] or the Ingalls family."
She ends her article with a little dig at "those reckless cowboys who are galloping across the world's range today, despoiling it", and compares them with a past hero.
"Whenever I go to Washington, I stop at the Lincoln memorial and look up at Mr Lincoln's wise, kind face. I wish he would come back and save the republic."
I am a real Abraham Lincoln fanatic, and have visited many of the Lincoln sites in my admiration for America's greatest president. But it is clear from his life that he was a real human being, and not some mythic idealistic superman. Lincoln was a political realist, who was determined to do anything necessary to win the war in order to save the Union.
Lincoln saved the republic with the considerable assistance of Sam Grant, and William Tecumseh Sherman. Those commanders character and methods of waging war might not survive modern day media attention.
You can read Sara Paretsky's full article at: