Greatest Hits of the Fifties

Here are some books that were on the best seller lists from 1950 to 1959. Many of them were made into memorable movies. Many of these titles are still around and worth another look fifty years later.

Lady Chatterley's Lover

By D.H. Lawrence

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"Lady Chatterley's Lover is one of the most beautiful and tender love stories of modern fiction. It is perhaps Lawrence's greatest book. Inspired by the long-standing affair between Frieda, Lawrence’s German wife, and an Italian peasant who eventually became her third husband, Lady Chatterley’s Lover is the story of Constance Chatterley, who, while trapped in an unhappy marriage to an aristocratic mine owner whose war wounds have left him paralyzed and impotent, has an affair with Mellors, the gamekeeper. Although Lawrence wrote the book in 1928, it was banned in Britain, Australia and the United States. Penguin Books went to court in 1959 in order to publish this book. It became a best seller immediately."

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Giant

By Edna Ferber

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This 1952 best-seller is a sweeping tale that captures the essence of Texas on a staggering scale as it chronicles the life and times of cattleman Jordan "Bick" Benedict, his naive young society wife, Leslie, and three generations of land-rich sons. A sensational story of power, love, cattle barons, and oil tycoons, Giant was the basis of the classic film starring James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and Rock Hudson.

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From Here to Eternity

By James Jones

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First published in 1951, From Here to Eternity brought author James Jones immediate fame and won him a National Book Award. The novel tells the story of the life of American soldiers stationed at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii in the months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Jones accurately captured the isolation and boredom of the military personnel in a close-knit Army barracks, combining social and military history with the drama of the personal lives of its main characters - an enlisted man and a neglected officer's wife, and a prostitute and a military outcast. The novel was translated into a powerful film in 1953. Although the film toned down the raw sexuality and violence of Jones' novel, it captured the essence of the book and featured outstanding performances by Deborah Kerr, Burt Lancaster, Donna Reed, Montgomery Clift and Frank Sinatra.

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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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Andersonville

By MacKinlay Kantor

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"Before there were The Killer Angels and Gods and Generals there was Andersonville. MacKinlay Kantor won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1955 for this novel, an epic account of the notorious prison camp in Macon County, Georgia. Though many of his characters are fictional, many are based on historical figures. Even some of the minor characters who appear as suffering prisoners of war are historical. Writing in the early fifties it was perhaps inevitable that Kantor drew subtle echoes of the Nazi concentration camps as he told this grim story of the greatest of Confederate war crimes. Kantor spent most of his life studying and writing about the Civil War. His emphasis was always on the small-town, ordinary citizens confronted with the horrors of Civil War.'

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Dear and Glorious Physician

By Taylor Caldwell

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Lucanus grew up in the household of his stepfather, the Roman govenor of Antioch. After studying medicine in Alexandria he became one of the greatest physicians of the ancient world and traveled far and wide through the Mediterranean region healing the sick.

As time went on he learned of the life and death of Christ and saw in Him the God he was seeking. To find out all he could about the life and teachings of Jesus, whom he never saw, Lucanus visited all the places where Jesus had been, questioning everyone--including His mother, Mary--who had known Him or heard Him preach. At last, when he had gathered all information possible, he wrote down what we now know as the Gospel according to St. Luke.

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