Saturday, August 16, 2014

1933 and 2014: A look at then and now, an essay by Michael Murphy, author of The Yankee Club

Please help me welcome Michael Murphy, author of the newly published Prohibition-era suspense novel The Yankee Club, who's stopping by with an essay which makes a detailed comparison between 1933 and today.


1933 and 2014: A Look at Then and Now
Michael Murphy

My historical mystery, The Yankee Club, takes place in New York City, 1933. Prohibition has been a failure and has led to the growth of organized crime. Banks have failed; twelve million people are out of work. Homes are lost, and hopes are dashed. A polarized society turns to politicians offering extreme views.

I wrote The Yankee Club, a mystery inspired by actual events, as an homage to classics of the Golden Age of Mysteries during the 1920s and '30s. A Goodreads reviewer, Susan Johnson said, “It’s like reading one of the witty 1930s movies where the humor offsets the darkness and you root for the characters. You could almost imagine Dashiell Hammett writing the book.”

As much as I enjoyed writing the novel, I couldn’t escape the similarities between events of 1933 and life in America today. Many will say back then we were in a Great Depression and today we’re working out of the 2008 recession. One definition of a recession I heard is “when my neighbor has lost their job.” A depression is when “I’ve lost my job.”

Today, the unemployment rate continues at record levels, and banks have failed. Dreams of owning a home, which used to be a given, are now out of reach for many. Plenty of people work two jobs to make ends meet. Politicians point fingers at past leaders and each other. Promises are offered, but few solutions are ever enacted. One can’t ignore comparisons between then and now:

Comparisons between then and now how well segments of the country have responded to economic crises of each generation. Charities provided soup kitchens in 1933 and today provide homeless shelters and job training. Our country rose from the depths of the Great Depression. Things have improved since the recession hit in 2008, and a glimpse of history tells me we’ll recover from that as well.

Followers of this blog enjoy historical fiction for many reasons. Readers and authors of historical fiction often compare people and events with life today, so my novel is not unique in this regard.

The Yankee Club has been described as a rollicking mystery. I’m proud of the novel; the story, the mystery, the introduction of Jake and Laura who appear next in All That Glitters. But I’m also pleased I was able to craft a historical novel that provides readers with a glimpse into the past as well as a reminder of the present.


Michael Murphy's The Yankee Club is published this week by Random House Alibi in ebook format ($2.99; see links for Kindle and Nook).  For more information, visit the author's website and his \Mystery & History blog.


  1. Thank you for allowing me to expand on what I learned while researching my historical mystery, The Yankee Club. I'll be interested in hearing what others say.

    1. Thanks again for contributing the post!

  2. Anonymous10:15 AM

    One of the things that impressed me most about the book was the amount of historical research that clearly went into the book. This is a great article and comparisons are accurate.

    1. Thanks. Few people will recognize that the story was based on an actual plot to replace Roosevelt. The plot was uncovered by a detective and the incident was documented in a congressional investigation..