DISCOVERING THE 20th CENTURY
Copyright 2010 by William Karl Thomas
The world we live in today was created by our parents and grandparents, and they lived in the
20th century. It was a century of technological and social evolution that made quantum leaps compared to all
prior centuries. Our parents and grandparents lived through two World Wars (World War I 1914-1918, World War
II 1939-1945), two inconclusive Asian wars (Korean War 1950-1953, Vietnam War 1955-1975), two horrendous
economic depressions (The Great Depression beginning in 1929, Black Monday economic decline beginning in 1987),
and two major social revolutions (Civil Rights Movement 1955-1968, First Amendment "Freedom of Speech" battles
beginning in 1960).
Born in 1933, I lived through most of these turbulent events in the pro-active roles of a journalist,
filmmaker, and book author. I worked for and collaborated with many of the pioneers in these shooting wars and social
battles. As a result, the stories I tell deal with the underlying themes of 20th century American history. I believe
my body of work to be an intimate survey of that history, hopefully providing the reader with an understanding of the
world of their forebears, and the sometimes bitter lessons learned about conflicts that appear to be repeated in the
I would like to invite educators to review my books as potential reading material for students of
American History and Sociology. My work is well researched and, in addition to having lived through most of the
events described, my early years as a journalist have made me an excellent researcher committed to accuracy and
As for the occasional eroticism in my fiction, it is well within the literary standards for good taste
and helps make history realistic and entertaining. Yes, my childhood memoir, The Genteel Poor, culminates with an affair
and marriage to my high school teacher. Yes, my collaboration with the most controversial comic of the 20th century,
Lenny Bruce: The Making of a Prophet, did bring me in contact with swingers and prostitutes. Yes, the three ladies in
The Josan and the Jee were victims of sexual violence and did face the choice of prostitution or starvation. But these
were the realities of those times and places, and to deny them would reduce a three dimensional world to a far less
realistic or interesting two dimensional one.
As for accuracy in drawing the historical figures in my works, I actually collaborated with Lenny
Bruce. I actually worked for Frank Sinatra and The Rat Pack. I actually spent afternoons conversing with James Baldwin.
Angela Davisí lawyer, Leo Branton, was actually my lawyer also. I actually photographed, conversed with, and ate dinners
with three American Presidents while they were in office. I've seen all of them with spinach in their teeth, socks that
don't match, and momentarily at a loss for words, but I have also seen all of them hold audiences spellbound with the
brilliance of their talent and the indisputable logic of their words. Wikipedia reassures me of dates and locations,
but personal experience helps me paint the indelible memories of the people I've known and the life I've lived.
Check me out my books,
and for additional credibility, check out my