New from Library’s Crime Classics: “The Conjure-Man Dies”

The Library’s acclaimed Crime Classic series is launching a new edition of “The Conjure-Man Dies” this month, a staple of the Harlem Renaissance and the most important work of long-overlooked novelist Rudolph Fisher. First published in 1932, the book was the first full-length mystery novel to feature an all-Black cast of characters, including detectives, suspects and victims.

Shackleton’s Antarctic “Turtle Soup” Book

Ernest Shackleton, the famed polar explorer, was the first to print a book on the Antarctic continent. His “Aurora Australis,” an anthology of writings by the crew and scientists during a 1907-1909 expedition, was printed in such dire conditions that the book covers were made from packing crates from the ship’s pantry. Only 25 or so were made. The Library’s copy has covers marked for “turtle soup” and “honey.”

The (Very Polite) Letters Behind “Double Indemnity”

“Double Indemnity” is one of Hollywood’s classic films, the standard-bearer for noir cinema and a career highlight for stars Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray. The Library has a fascinating exchange of letters between the “Double” stars and novelist James M. Cain, whose book was the basis for the film. The letters give us a glimpse into Hollywood history, how scandalous the movie was at the time and at the manners of a bygone era. It’s almost impossible to imagine this exchange taking place today.

Madeleine Albright: A Life of Courage and Commitment

Madeleine Albright, the first female U.S. Secretary of State, died today in Washington at the age of 84. The cause was cancer, her family said.. Albright, who donated her papers to the Library in 2014, was a key figure in the administration of Bill Clinton, serving both as ambassador to the United Nations and then as Secretary of State during his second term. Outspoken to the end, she wrote an essay for the New York Times in late February warning about the effects of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. She included her notes from her first meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, more than two decades ago: “Putin is small and pale…so cold as to be almost reptilian.”

Black Cowboys at “Home on the Range”

Black men were among the first cowboys in the U.S. They roped, branded and saddled up for cattle drives. Some gained fame, such as Bill Pickett and Nat Love. But mostly, as time passed, pop culture erased Black cowboys from the Western milieu, creating a misleading image of the Old West as peopled by white men on horseback, riding the lonely grasslands. The Library’s collections help document a more accurate picture of what cowboy culture actually looked like in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, during the cowboy heyday.