When journalist, author, adventurer and ex-government agent Ernest Fletcher Quick died at age 104 in 1981 after dancing all night in a New York tango bar, nearly everyone had forgotten that earlier in the century he was a household name, a true rock star of the Gaslight Era. And certainly no one knew that he had been for sometime writing his memoirs, loaded with shocking revelations about himself, many of the most famous, dangerous and powerful people of the 20th century, not to mention a good many of its most important events.
But now the word is out.
David Patrick McQuade, an aficionado of American journalistic history (who also writes moderately popular science books under the pseudonym Chip Walter) has revealed that he stumbled across the so-called “Quick Papers” several years ago, and after painstakingly combing through them to ensure their authenticity, has edited the first packet and is releasing them online.
“They are astounding,” says McQuade (Walter). “The trouble this man managed to get into, and then out of … and the people he met, it’s mind-bending.”
In the book’s introduction, McQuade adds, “I not only found it remarkable that one man had encountered so many of these legends, or partook in so many astonishing (and usually life-threatening) events, but I was continually startled at the off-handed, blunt observations he made about them. Stalin: ‘A Cossack street thug if ever there was one, but wicked smart so you had to watch your back every second.’ Churchill: ‘You would never think that a man with a lisp like his could possibly save the western world. But there was never a sharper, more restless mind than his, even if it was usually half pickled in brandy.’ Mata Hari: ‘She could do things with her belly that defied the laws of physics, and owned a bottom so firm you could crack a walnut on it. Devious as Lucifer too. Loved that about her.’”
In this first installment of his rollicking memoirs he reveals that he, not Teddy Roosevelt, led the charge up San Juan Hill, tells how he managed to not only remember the Maine, but solve the mystery of its destruction, and faced (despite all his best efforts to avoid it) one of the nastiest villains of the 20th century.
But most shocking of all is that while Quick was known in his day as tough, honest and gallant, and never at a loss no matter how desperate his situation, in these pages he admits to being a liar, coward, fake and, to use his own words, “as yellow as mustard.”
McQuade is making Quick’s memoirs available one “episode” at a time at www.chipwalter.com/Quick as well as online bookstores like Amazon.com, Kobo.com, iTunes (for iBook) and BarnesandNobel.com. The first four episodes will be free and then subsequent episodes will cost readers 49¢. A new episode will be released each week. Later the book will also be published in hardback.
McQuade says additional edited packets may be in the offing that reveal the journalist’s exploits with Pancho Villa in Mexico, the Russian Revolution, the Boxer Rebellion in China, both World Wars and a wide range of other adventures, many of which include, he says, another famous, but now forgotten journalist, the ravishing and truly fearless Bailey Stewart. “So far the one thing I can say about these papers is they’re never boring,” says McQuade.
She shows up in episode seven, in New York City, along with Diamond Jim Brady.
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