Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Total recall of Richard Condon's "Mile High": the "Secret History" of Prohibition


My quick trip to the Adirondacks, with the drive up Whiteface Mountain, with its bizarre drive-through turnaround tunnel, and then the walk-through tunnel to the elevator, reminded me of the infamous novel “Mile High” by Richard Condon, published by the Dial Press in 1969. 

I recall reading it while in the Army, perhaps on one of my bus trips “home” from Fort Eustis, shortly after publication. The paperback came out pretty quickly.

The title refers to a fortress in the Adirondacks, although only one of the “High Peaks” (Mt. Marcy, which I did climb in 1974) is over a mile above sea level.

The plot is an example of “secret history”.   The central character is perhaps Edward Courance West, son of Irish immigrant political boss Paddy. Edward conceives and executes a plan to have Prohibition passed so that he can personally make a fortune from it.  In sum, that's what the Mafia is all about. He became a godfather, and not the kind that kisses babies in political campaigns. 

I recall a convoluted climax to the three-part novel in a private castle high in the mountains. 

The author is perhaps better known for “The Manchurian Candidate”, which has become a movie twice.

The entries on Amazon range in price from $.01 to over $200.   

Update: June 14, 2013

I got a call as to whether audio books are available.  I looked on Amazon, and it looks like it's just paper and resold copies of the hardcover.  I don't think old novels get into the audio market unless they are very popular (this novel never got quite the traction of "The Manchurian Candidate", according to the caller).  I wonder if it could wind up on Kindle.  

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