Monday, July 28, 2008


A few years ago I bought a whole load of books at the Strand sidewalk sale. You could fill a rather large shopping bag with books for 10 dollars.  One of the many books I picked up was Dee Brown's Showdown at Little Big Horn. I didn't have any particular fascination in the subject (I love learning about history, but 19th century American history isn't a really an area of interest for me) but it was cheap, cheap, cheap so I figured, hey, why not? and bought the book. A book which is listed as non-fiction. A quote:
A few minutes later they halted beside a long stable fragrant with the odor of hay. "Shall I get your horse for you, Doc?" Ryan called out.

"No, I'll be going by the hospital." DeWolf took a pair of leather bags from the ambulance. "Well, Mr. Kellogg, I may not see you again until we return from the expedition."

"We may meet again sooner than you expect," Kellogg replied mysteriously.

DeWolf hesitated for a moment. "H'm. If you mean what I think you do, don't forget to bring along your chess set. They tell me there's more waiting than action on these summer Indian chases."

"I'll remember that." Aware that Sergeant Ryan was moving about impatiently, Kellogg made a quick farewell salute.

Ryan said: "You'll be needing a horse, Mr. Kellogg. I'll see if I can confiscate one--hey, Sivertsen!"

A giant of a trooper, well over six feet tall with shoulders as broad as a door, swung around from a blacksmith forge. "Yep, Sergeant?"

"How many horses in there?"

"Half a dozen."

"Saddle one for Mr. Kellogg." 
Right, sure, non-fiction. I particularly like how well the sources are cited. Except for the part where they're not. I have no problem with historical fiction. I frequently enjoy it, even. But call it what it is. 

Despite my ongoing annoyance though, there is one thing about the book that amuses me immensely. 
The printing I have is a mass market from 1971 and was published by Berkley Medallion. Berkley was owned by G. P. Putnam's Sons, a long established company that published such authors as John Le Carre, William Golding, and Vladimir Nabokov. What would people say now if major book publishing companies inserted pages of ads into their books? 

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