Vintage Pulp Jul 17 2023
THE RIVER WILD
When nature goes mad human nature follows suit.


As you probably know, we have an attraction to books set in tropical lands. We also, to a similar extent, are automatically drawn to books set during natural disasters. Examples include John D. MacDonald's Murder in the Wind, Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth's A Town Is Drowning, Louis A. Brennan's Death at Flood Tide, Theodore Pratt's Tropical Disturbance, Rain of Terror by Malcolm Douglas, and The Angry Mountain by Hammond Innes. John and Ward Hawkins' A Girl, a River, and Man is an addition to the collection. The book appeared in the above Popular Library edition in 1957, but had been originally published a year earlier as The Floods of Fear, and appeared even earlier in serial form in The Saturday Evening Post.

These two authors certainly know what they're about. A Girl, a River, and Man is propulsive, action packed, well characterized, and climaxes violently. The premise is that, during a major flood, a group of convicts pressed into service to reinforce a dike are caught by rising waters and swept away. Two convicts survive, along with a prison guard, and into the mix is thrown a woman unluckily stranded in the same area. The interaction between this group is volatile, to say the least. One convict, who's a career armed robber, wants simply to loot. The other, a murderer, wants to kill the person most responsible for sending him to jail. The prison guard, meanwhile, is obsessive about putting both jailbirds back into the joint—no matter the cost.

There's no mystery about the fact that the murderer may not have committed the crime. Though prison has hardened him to the extent that he's a terrifying presence, his possible innocence becomes obvious early on, and it's the element that catalyzes the actions and reactions that energize the tale. As a magazine serial compiled into novel form, A Girl, a River, and Man is both short and filled with mini-climaxes that drive the reader inexorably toward the finale. There's more action packed into the story than any five typical 1950s-era novels. The Hawkins brothers falter slightly when dealing with the inevitable romantic subplot, but otherwise this is pure escapist adventure executed at a high level, and we recommend it strongly.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 25
1938—Alicante Is Bombed
During the Spanish Civil War, a squadron of Italian bombers sent by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini to support the insurgent Spanish Nationalists, bombs the town of Alicante, killing more than three-hundred people. Although less remembered internationally than the infamous Nazi bombing of Guernica the previous year, the death toll in Alicante is similar, if not higher.
1977—Star Wars Opens
George Lucas's sci-fi epic Star Wars premiers in the Unites States to rave reviews and packed movie houses. Produced on a budget of $11 million, the film goes on to earn $460 million in the U.S. and $337 million overseas, while spawning a franchise that would eventually earn billions and make Lucas a Hollywood icon.
May 24
1930—Amy Johnson Flies from England to Australia
English aviatrix Amy Johnson lands in Darwin, Northern Territory, becoming the first woman to fly from England to Australia. She had departed from Croydon on May 5 and flown 11,000 miles to complete the feat. Her storied career ends in January 1941 when, while flying a secret mission for Britain, she either bails out into the Thames estuary and drowns, or is mistakenly shot down by British fighter planes. The facts of her death remain clouded today.
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