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The Wall

By John Hersey

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Riveting and compelling, The Wall tells the inspiring story of forty men and women who escape the dehumanizing horror of the Warsaw ghetto. John Hersey's novel documents the Warsaw ghetto both as an emblem of Nazi persecution and as a personal confrontation with torture, starvation, humiliation, and cruelty -- a gripping and visceral story, impossible to put down. This book was the number 4 best selling novel of 1950. The 1982 film based on this book is available on DVD.

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The Last Hurrah

By Edwin O'Connor

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Edwin O'Connor's prize-winning The Last Hurrah is one of the most entertaining novels ever written about American politics. It evokes the seedy grandeur of Frank Skeffington, last of the great big-city Irish political bosses, making his final race for mayor. The novel was adapted as a successful 1958 film, starring Spencer Tracy.

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Peyton Place

By Grace Metalious

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Peyton Place, published in 1956, has sold over 10,000,000 copies world-wide and remains one of the biggest selling novels of all time. Its sequel, Return to Peyton Place, published in 1959, was a national best-seller for many, many months. It was considered absolutely scandalous when it was published. Peyton Place stirred controversy with its explicit—for the time—depictions of sex and sins in a small New England town. Today, the once shocking novel and its sequel seem tame, and are taught in college English courses as classics of their time, well-written and honest in the evocation of the passions, jealousies, and secrets of small-town America. In 1957, it was made into an award-winning movie starring Lana Turner.

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On the Beach

By Nevil Shute

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"In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river...
This is the way the world ends--
This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper."

Nevil Shute placed this quote from T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men" on the title page of his chilling bestselling 1957 novel about life and death in Australia after a nuclear war in the northern hemisphere. The novel focuses on the crew of an American ship stranded in Australia after all of the northern hemisphere has destroyed itself in nuclear war. Radiation slowly travels south with the winds, and we meet memorable characters who try to grab what enjoyment life can offer before the inevitable end comes. Stanley Kramer's 1959 film starring Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck was very faithful to the book. This title is also available as a recorded book.

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No Time for Sergeants

By Mac Hyman

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When the man from the draft board arrives to take country bumpkin Will Stockdale for induction into the army, Will’s father chases him off. But even hastily erected barbed wire cannot prevent Uncle Sam from claiming this draftee, and soon Will is on a bus to Fort Thompson, Georgia. This bestselling novel from 1954 was made into a popular play and film. No Time For Sergeants is as wildly original a series of humorous escapades as has ever been written about military life.

In the barracks, our hapless hero meets little Ben Whitledge, a fellow trainee who thinks he deserves a medal simply because his grandfather fought under Stonewall Jackson. This odd duo is assigned to the elite Air Force although they would rather serve in that most glorious and revered branch of the Army — the Infantry. Sergeant King, Will’s nemesis, is determined to dampen the young soldier’s enthusiasm, but Will consistently prevails and unknowingly confounds the gruff sergeant at every turn. The 1958 film version starred Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, and Nick Adams.

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My Cousin Rachel

By Daphne du Maurier

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Philip Ashley's older cousin Ambrose, who raised the orphaned Philip as his own son, has died in Rome. Philip, the heir to Ambrose's beautiful English estate, is crushed that the man he loved died far from home. He is also suspicious. While in Italy, Ambrose fell in love with Rachel, a beautiful English and Italian woman. But the final, brief letters Ambrose wrote hint that his love had turned to paranoia and fear.

Now Rachel has arrived at Philip's newly inherited estate. Could this exquisite woman, who seems to genuinely share Philip's grief at Ambrose's death, really be as cruel as Philip imagined? Or is she the kind, passionate woman with whom Ambrose fell in love? Philip struggles to answer this question, knowing Ambrose's estate, and his own future, will be destroyed if his answer is wrong.

This 1952 best seller was made into a film starring Olivia de Havilland and Richard Burton.

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Exodus

By Leon Uris

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Published in 1958, this 600-page novel was a sensation as millions read Uris' detailed, heroic chronicle of European Jewry from the turn of the century to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. The novel was translated into dozens of languages and was even distributed secretly in communist countries. The birth of a new nation was depicted through many characters, but the story of an American nurse and an Israeli freedom fighter formed the nucleus of the work. Uris traveled to Palestine and covered the Arab-Israeli hostilities as a war correspondent. Two years later his masterpiece Exodus was published. Always known for the exacting detail of his research, Uris reportedly traveled over fifty thousand miles and interviewed over 1,200 people in preparation for writing the novel.
The 1960 movie version of Exodus, starring Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint, was nominated for three Oscars. Paul Newman looked his absolute gorgeous best in this movie.

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Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade in Biography

By Patrick Dennis

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Wildly successful when it was first published in 1955, Patrick Dennis’ Auntie Mame sold over two million copies and stayed put on the New York Times bestseller list for 112 weeks. It was made into a play, a Broadway as well as a Hollywood musical, and a fabulous movie starring Rosalind Russell. Since then, Mame has taken her rightful place in the pantheon of Great and Important People as the world’s most beloved, madcap, devastatingly sophisticated, and glamorous aunt. She is impossible to resist, and this hilarious story of an orphaned ten-year-old boy sent to live with his aunt is as delicious a read in the twenty-first century as it was in the 1950s.

 The sequel is Around the World with Auntie Mame.

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Anna Karenina

By Leo Tolstoy

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"Regarded by many as the greatest novel ever written in any language, Anna Karenina relates the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer Count Vronsky. Set against a vast and richly textured canvas of nineteenth-century Russia, Anna's tragedy unfolds with relentless force as she rejects her passionless marriage to the aging official Karenin and must endure the hypocrisies of society."

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The Hunt for Red October

By Tom Clancy

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A deadly game of hide-and-seek played out in 18 days over 4000 miles of ocean. Red October is the Soviet Navy's newest ballistic missile submarine. When the whole crew decides to defect, the Soviet fleet sets out to destroy it, while the US and British fleets attempt to prevent them.

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