Charles Yale Harrison
Born in Philadelphia to Jewish parents, Harrison grew up in Montreal, where at age fifteen he wrote his first short story and at age sixteen took an entry-level job with the Montreal Star newspaper. Harrison's journalistic career was pre-empted, however, when he enlisted with the 244th Overseas Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1917 to fight in World War I. After several months in a reserve battalion in England, Harrison transferred to the Royal Montreal Regiment and was sent to the Western Front.
The climax of Harrison's war experience came on 8 August 1918 when he participated in the first day of the Battle of Amiens. Harrison was wounded in the foot and spent the rest of the war recuperating, before returning to Montreal. During the 1920s, Harrison managed a movie theatre before moving to New York City to pursue a career as a novelist, journalist, and public relations consultant. By 1928, serialized portions of Generals Die in Bed began to appear in several American and German periodicals. The same year, Harrison made headlines in the New York Times when he was arrested en route to Nicaragua, where he planned to interview the Nicaraguan dissident General Augusto César Sandino.
In 1930, after such anti-war books as Robert Graves's Goodbye to All That, Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms, and Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front (all published in 1929) became bestsellers, publishers took an interest in Generals Die in Bed, many elements of which resembled the other books. Harrison, who was working as a copy editor on the Bronx Home News was propelled into the spotlight when Generals Die in Bed became an international bestseller, in part due to the controversy surrounding its depiction of Canadian soldiers looting the French town of Arras and shooting unarmed German soldiers.
Although he went on to publish several more novels, none of them matched the commercial success of Generals Die in Bed. More successful were his non-fiction writings, including a 1931 biography of socialist lawyer Clarence Darrow and a 1949 memoir entitled Thank God For My Heart Attack, an early installment in the genre of self-help books.
Harrison married three times; he was widowed in 1931, later remarried and divorced his second wife, and was survived by his third wife at his death. Harrison's niece, Judith Rossner, became a successful novelist in the 1960s and '70s, thanks in part to his encouragement of her early work.
Harrison's last novel, Nobody's Fool, was published in 1948. Suffering from the heart condition that inspired his self-help memoir, he died in 1954.
- Generals Die in Bed (1930)
- A Child is Born (1931)
- There Are Victories (1933)
- Meet Me on the Barricades (1937)
- Nobody's Fool (1948)
- Next Please: The Story of Greco and Carillo (political pamphlet, 1927)
- Clarence Darrow (biography, 1931)
- Public Housing (series of pamphlets, 1937)
- Labor Lawyer (ghostwritten autobiography of Louis Waldman, 1944)
- Thank God For My Heart Attack (self-help, 1949)