Monday, March 19, 2018

Book of the Day: Love, fascists, and the Pan-Am Clipper to Rio

Allan Chase, The Five Arrows (Random House, 1944). Hardcover, no dust jacket. 3-8 pp. 8” x 5”, w/red cloth boards. Gilt spine titling in good shape, with a debossed image of South America centered on the cover. A little pull wear at the top of the spine. Very good condition. HBB price: $35.

Kirkus Reviews considered the book:

The author of last year's "Falange" (Putnam) uses his knowledge of that background in an adventure story of the Nazi penetration of South America. Styled on Hemingway, hard talk and virile byplays, as Matt Hall, bitter and belligerent after the war in Spain, goes down to San Hornazo, capital of one of the Latin American democracies, to investigate Falangist activities. His intervention unearths the facts behind the slow death of its liberal President -- and the subsequent election is turned towards a democratic candidate. Rough and rugged action, some sex (too much for some P.L.'s). Good of its kind. -- largely masculino.

Falangism was the political ideology underpinning Spanish fascism under Francisco Franco from the 1930s through the mid-1970s. It had various political manifestations throughout the nations of South America in the 1930s and ‘40s as military strongmen like Juan Peron and Alfredo Stroessner took power. Chase drew on his experiences in the Spanish Civil War era to craft a wartime thriller, The Five Arrows.

Chase (1913-1993), led a richly varied, if ultimately obscure, life. One blog has this: 

He was born in New York City on April 19, 1913. He began his career as a newspaper reporter in the early 1930's. In the 1940's, he started writing novels. Several of the books he wrote, including "Falange: The Axis Secret Army in the Americas" and "The Five Arrows", made U.S. authorities think he was a Communist, and he was brought in for official questioning on the matter on July 2, 1953, appearing before Joseph McCarthy, the famous senator who tried to out many people in the entertainment industry and elsewhere as being Communists.

In Chase's testimony, which was unsealed and released to the public 50 years after the fact in 2003, we learn a few facts about the man himself. Chase's full name is Allan Chase (he had no middle name); he was born in, as he states, "the city of New York, borough of Manhattan" and resided at the time at 725 West End Avenue in New York City. Chase was then questioned directly by Dr. J.B. Matthews: "Mr. Chase, do you believe that the FBI fakes evidence against people?" Chase replied: "No, sir." Chase then confirmed that he was a secretary of the American Committee for Spanish Freedom and stated that the organization was cited as a Communist front by the attorney general after he left the organization. He then stated he knew that he left that organization by September 12, 1945, because that was the date his daughter (Deborah) was born. Chase then admitted he was a Communist for a mere two weeks in 1934. He said "I felt like the Rabbi who wandered into a house of burlesque in Boston without knowing what he had wandered into. I saw and heard and by the time I realized what I had gotten into, I picked up my hat and feet and ran." Chase went on to state that in 1934, he was 20 years old, the US had 20 million unemployed, and he was vitally concerned with one issue at that time: the Spanish War. After Chase told the committee that he was writing an anti-Communist book, and that if he were called to testify in public session that it would ruin the book, the committee decided to not call Chase to testify publicly, and even told Chase that the testimony he gave today will not be made public. That promise, of course, was held for 50 years, until these documents (as with many government documents) were released 50 years after the fact.

After Chase's committee questioning, he became involved in the television and motion picture business and worked off-and-on in the industry from around 1953-1965. Some sources list him as the creator of the CBS soap "Valiant Lady" (which ran from 1953-1957, and in which Ted Corday directed; however other sources state that Adrian Spies was the show's creator). IMDB also lists Chase as writing episodes of "77 Sunset Strip" in 1960 and "The Defenders" in 1964. After he was named as one of the creators of "Days" in the show's proposal in late 1964, Chase seems to have then left the entertainment industry behind and went on to his next love: researching and writing books about medicine.

In his later years, Chase became focused on researching and writing about medicine. He reported and commented about medicine and public health for "Medical Tribune" from 1976-1981. He also wrote three books dealing with the subject: "The Legacy of Malthus", about scientific racism, in 1977; "Magic Shots", a history of vaccines, in 1982; and "The Truth About STD", about sexually transmitted diseases, in 1983. He was also a visiting lecturer at the University of Illinois in 1979. Near the end of his life, Chase was working on books about the history of nutrition, tuberculosis, AIDS and the legalization of drugs, and was also writing his memoir (called "The Summer of 1941"), but he passed away on June 22, 1993 before having a chance to publish any of those books. Chase was married for many years to his wife, Martha.

As Maureen Russell's 1995 book, "Days of Our Lives: A Complete History of the Long-Running Soap Opera", stated: "Allan Chase worked with Ted Corday on a number of projects in New York. He was credited in the early years of the show because he had been in on the initial planning. His input was minimal, and he is no longer credited with the show's creation." 

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