Andrew Bernstein began his 2008 article “The Exalted Heroism of Alistair MacLean’s Novels” as follows:
Less than fifty years ago, Alistair MacLean’s novels were international best-sellers that spawned major motion pictures. Today, his novels are out-of-print in America and MacLean, once considered a “master storyteller,” is virtually unknown to an entire generation of readers. This is tragic, for MacLean was one of the few authors of the last one-hundred years who both displayed a genuine comprehension of man’s potential for heroism and possessed the ability to convincingly portray this potential in literary form.
Bernstein went on to survey MacLean’s books, indicating their value to those who love novels “with relentlessly goal-directed characters” and, by the end, had indeed conveyed the tragedy of the books being out of print.
But never count a good author out. In June of this year, Sterling Publishers reprinted five of MacLean’s novels, including two—The Guns of Navarone and H.M.S. Ulysses—that Bernstein discussed extensively in his article. And in 2012, Sterling plans to publish eight more.
The literary tides, it seems, are changing. And if reviews of the republished works are any indication, MacLean may prove to be, as Bernstein hoped in closing, “not the last of [the] great writers of heroic adventure fiction—but the first of their return.”
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