The Henry Ford of Literature
By Rolf Potts
The Believer, September 2008
How one nearly forgotten 1920s publisher’s “Little Blue Books” created an inexpensive mail-order information superhighway that paved the way for the sexual revolution, influenced the feminist and civil rights movements, and foreshadowed the age of information.
“When Emanuel Haldeman-Julius drowned in his backyard swimming pool, on July 31, 1951, he was popularly regarded as a has-been, even in his adopted hometown of Girard, Kansas. Denounced as a communist in national newspapers and investigated by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, he had recently lost a federal tax evasion lawsuit and was facing time in jail. Amid the cold war atmosphere of the time, schoolchildren around Girard whispered that Haldeman-Julius had actually been assassinated for being a Soviet spy; adults speculated that his death was a suicide—though the only note he left behind contained a silly joke meant for his wife.” [read the rest]
The Leonard H. Axe Library, Pittsburg State University, maintains an online index of all the Little Blue Books published in The E. Haldeman-Julius Collection.