Bio: Richard McKenna was born in 1913 in Idaho and entered the United States Navy in 1931 to help support his mother and younger brothers. He spent over twenty years in the Navy, serving for a time in China on a gunboat patrolling the Yangtze River. His own experiences and the tales he heard of the Revolution that had taken place during the previous decade formed the basis for his most famous novel, The Sand Pebbles.
After retiring from the service, McKenna attended the University of North Carolina on the GI Bill. After settling in Chapel Hill, he began publishing science fiction stories, but it wasn't until publication of The Sand Pebbles in 1962 that he achieved widespread recognition. The novel won the Harper's Award in 1963 and spent 28 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. It was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post and was later adapted into the film of the same name.
Tragedy came in 1964 when McKenna died of a heart attack at the age of 51. He was working on his second novel at the time. McKenna was posthumously awarded the Nebula award for his outstanding work in science fiction.
Literary theorist Georg Lukács complains in his seminal work, The Historical Novel, that the works of imaginative literature too often use history as a mere backdrop, a way for an author to decorate the story and characters. Lukács singles out Sir Walter Scott, English author of such works as Ivanhoe and the Waverly novels, as a notable exception. According to Lukács Scott's novels document, with painstaking verisimilitude, the character of the historical period in which the action is taking pla... more info>>