T A P S   F O R   P R I V A T E   T U S S I E
E. P. Dutton & Co., New York City, New York, 1943. 303 pp.
With illustration by Thomas Benton
  Taps for Private Tussie  
  Taps for Private Tussie remains Jesse Stuart’s most well-known novel. Soldier Kim Tussie’s death brings his widow, Vittie, $10,000 in insurance money. Innocent young Sid Tussie describes what happens when a poor mountain clan comes into sudden wealth and their antics become a tale of high comedy, as forty-six Tussies pack themselves into their new “mansion” and proceed to live the good life—until something unexpected ended it all.

The novel was selected as the Book of Month Club choice for Christmas in 1943. It sold one million copies by 1944 and eventually over 2 million copies were sold . The novel also received critical claim and won the Thomas Jefferson Southern Award for the best Southern Book of the Year for 1943. In February 1944 MGM bought the movie rights for $500,000. Hollywood was a buzz with the names of stars, such as Robert Walker, Walter Brennen, Frank Sinatra, Clark Gable, and Barbara Stanwyck, all seeking roles in what could be a block-buster comedy, but the production eventually collapsed after the U.S. Army criticized its portrayal in the book! The book was issued in Great Britain in 1946 under the title, He'll Be Coming Down the Mountain.

John Wilson Townsend, a Kentucky writer  and dear friend of Jesse, was was born 1885 and died in 1968.


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