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TRUMBO by Bruce Cook

TRUMBO (original 1977; edition 2015)

by Bruce Cook (Author)

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11314175,006 (3.38)1
ONE OF BUSTLE'S BOOKS TO READ BEFORE OSCAR SEASON IS OVER The true story that inspired the major motion picture starring Bryan Cranston and Helen Mirren. Dalton Trumbo was the central figure in the "Hollywood Ten," the blacklisted and jailed screenwriters. One of several hundred writers, directors, producers, and actors who were deprived of the opportunity to work in the motion picture industry from 1947 to 1960, he was the first to see his name on the screen again. When that happened, it was Exodus, one of the year's biggest movies. This intriguing biography shows that all his life Trumbo was a radical of the homegrown, independent variety. From his early days in Colorado, where his grandfather was a county sheriff, to Los Angeles, where he organized a bakery strike, to bootlegging, to Hollywood, where he was the highest-paid screenwriter when he was blacklisted (and a man with constant money problems), his life rivaled anything he had written. His credits include Kitty Foyle, The Brave One, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, Spartacus, Lonely are the Brave, and Papillon, and he is the author of a power pacifist novel, Johnny Got His Gun.… (more)
Authors:Bruce Cook (Author)
Info:Grand Central Publishing (2015), Edition: Reissue, 352 pages
Collections:Your library

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Trumbo by Bruce Cook (1977)



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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
The period of time of the blacklist in Hollywood is an embarrassing time for our history. But, with all history, it has its roots in period realities, fears, and social significance. Just after WWII, the devastation of that conflict brought into light many of the normal concerns and fears that such a cataclysmic event can produce. Political preferences were just as likely to be called into question and perspectives analyzed. Communism was no exception. Many jumped onto the "bandwagon" of the Communists with its seeming intent to ensure equal distribution. At the same time, fears that large military endeavors can occur, stoked the fears of Americans to a world seemingly in disarray. Having grown-up very poor, Trumbo had a talent for writing and recognition of social issues. As -- what I would call -- a "free-thinker" of the time, Communism probably seemed like a worthy consideration. Labor and management -- the people and government, the have's and have not's -- to someone wanting more for others, it seemed a legitimate choice. Dalton Trumbo managed to work-through and prosper during the blacklist period without sacrificing his personal convictions. He didn't talk. He didn't name names. Dalton Trumbo was a fighter and worker and seemed to earn it everyday. It's a testament to the character of the individual. A family man who loved his wife and children, Dalton Trumbo remained Dalton Trumbo despite the ignorance and severity of the blacklist period. ( )
  MikeBiever | Aug 20, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this audiobook free to review here. The narration was painfully poor to listen to, which made it hard for me to become interested in the content. While I am a history buff, this account of one writer’s struggle with censorship did not win my focus. Honestly, if the narration had been more professional, I might have become more engaged. ( )
  Z49YR | Oct 3, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Received this audio book through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. It appears to be a tie-in to the film of said title being released.

It was an interesting biography on Dalton Trumbo during the Blacklist period in Hollywood during the 40's and 50's. The book paints a clear picture of the struggle of those affected by the politics of the time period.

As far as the audiobook was concerned, I found it to be a little too slow paced for my liking and at times I had a difficult time staying focused on the narrator's voice. ( )
  Marleen_Cloutier | Dec 8, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Dalton Trumbo has long been a hero of mine. He was one of the who refused to testify during the Hollwood red scare and served prison time as a result. He also authored Johnny Got His Gun, one of the most powerful anti-war novels I've ever read.

Because of my admiration for Trumbo, I was very excited to receive a copy of this audio book via LibraryThing's Early Reviewer Program.

Unfortunately, this biography wasn't really to my taste. It's detailed and thorough, but also very, very "Hollywood." Particularly as an audio book it reads more as a film script (there is a film coming) than a scholarly biography. The narrator has a plummy tone and takes on a variety of accents as he portrays different characters the author interviewed, which draws attention more to the performance than to the content. If you enjoy reading People magazine, you will probably love this book. If you want more scholarly fare, you'll leave it disappointed. ( )
  Sarah-Hope | Dec 1, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
When I was in high school, during the Vietnam War, I read a book that changed forever the way I thought about war. The author was Dalton Trumbo, a name I had never heard of before that time. I’ve heard a lot about him in the decades since.

Trumbo was arguably the best and certainly the best know screen writer in the history of Hollywood. His screen credits include Kitty Foyle, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, The Brave One, Roman Holiday, Exodus, Papillion, and Spartacus. What he is best known for, though, is that he single-handedly, if some sources are to be believed, broke the blacklist that, for over a decade, dictated who could work in Hollywood.

Most of the books I am asked to review have not yet been published but Trumbo, and the accompanying audiobook narrated by Luke Daniels, was actually written in 1976 by Bruce Cook, with Trumbo’s knowledge and full cooperation and is now being rereleased to coincide with the release of the Trumbo biopic starring Bryan Cranston.

It is a comprehensive biography that describes in depth Trumbo’s childhood in Grand Junction, Colorado, and his evolution from baker to writer during the height of the Great Depression. It covered his rise to A-list screenwriter, his appearance before the House Un-American Affairs Committee, his trial and conviction for contempt of Congress, a misdemeanor for which he spent one year in federal prison.

“I remember visiting Dalton after his first night in the DC jail. He told me that in the middle of the night the police brought in a guy. He was charged with some heinous offense, assault with a deadly weapon or something. Then this gang member asked him what he was in for, and Dalton told him. This tough guy shrank back. ‘Holy Jesus,’ he said. ‘Contempt of Congress?’ He was impressed, overwhelmed.”

Following his release from prison Trumbo, the other members of The Hollywood Ten, and anyone else who aided them or was suspected of communist sympathies were officially blacklisted, unable to work in the film industry. Those who did work did so under the table and received no recognition for their efforts. When ‘The Brave One’ won an Oscar for the best screenplay it was awarded to Robert Rich, a man who did not exist. The screenplay was written by Dalton Trumbo.

In time, the blacklist was breached, not by Trumbo alone but by many people who recognized that there were few things more Un-American than to deprive someone of the right to earn a living based solely on his politics.

Cook portrays Trumbo as a larger than life character with a personality as big and bold as Earnest Hemingway. While the book does portray him in a positive light, it still provides enough information that the reader has little trouble forming their own opinion of the man, his life and the industry that he worked in.

“There is more to be said for the man than that. For even in a time like our own, one practically inured to the power of myth, a life like Trumbo’s takes on something of a fabulous quality. His has been a fabulous life, a tale told, an old-fashioned story that illustrates the virtues of hard work, of keeping faith with one’s self and one’s ideals, a quintessentially American story that he could, with only a few important details altered, have written himself for the Saturday Evening Post, back in the thirties. But no, he didn’t write it. He lived it, improvising it from the days and hours he was given, making it up as he went along.

“Let him be remembered by that story and his place will is assured.”


*Quotations are cited from an advanced reading copy and may not be the same as appears in the final published edition. The review book was based on an advanced reading copy obtained at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. While this does take any ‘not worth what I paid for it’ statements out of my review, it otherwise has no impact on the content of my review.

FYI: On a 5-point scale I assign stars based on my assessment of what the book needs in the way of improvements:
*5 Stars – Nothing at all. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
*4 Stars – It could stand for a few tweaks here and there but it’s pretty good as it is.
*3 Stars – A solid C grade. Some serious rewriting would be needed in order for this book to be considered great or memorable.
*2 Stars – This book needs a lot of work. A good start would be to change the plot, the character development, the writing style and the ending.
*1 Star - The only thing that would improve this book is a good bonfire. ( )
  Unkletom | Dec 1, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
I received this audiobook from Library Thing and appreciate the publisher providing it. That said, I found this audiobook problematic. The narration quality was poor: mispronounced words, untrained vocal rhythms that made me embarrassed for the reader, though the reading did improve after the first disc. The story assumes the reader knows generally about the Hollywood blacklist of the McCarthy era, so it may not be for a fully general public. My interest--and I did know the basic history behind it--was marginal at the outset, and only slightly piqued by listening to the story.
added by Z49YR | editLT User, Ted Parkhurst (Jan 5, 2016)

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