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Words at War: World War II Era Radio Drama and the Postwar Broadcasting Industry Blacklist (Studies And Documentation In The History Of Popular Entertainment)

by Howard Blue

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Words at War describes how 17 radio dramatists and their actors fought a war of words against fascism abroad and injustice at home. Beginning in the late 1930s, the commercial networks, private agencies, and the government cooperated with radio dramatists to produce plays to alert Americans to the Nazi threat. They also used radio to stimulate morale. They showed how Americans could support the fight against fascism even if it meant just having a "victory garden." Simultaneously as they worked on the war effort, many radio writers and actors advanced a progressive agenda to fight the enemy within: racism, poverty, and other social ills. When the war ended, many of these people paid for their idealism by suffering blacklisting. Veterans' groups, the FBI, right-wing politicians, and other reactionaries mounted an assault on them to drive them out of their professions. This book discusses that partly successful effort and the response of the radio personalities involved. This book discusses commercial drama series such as The Man Behind the Gun, network sustained shows such as those of Norman Corwin, and government-produced programs such as the Uncle Sam series. The book is largely based on the author's interviews with Norman Corwin, Arthur Miller, Pete Seeger, Arthur Laurents, Art Carney and dozens of others associated with radio during its Golden Age. It also discusses public reaction to these broadcasts and the issue of blacklisting. Words at War weaves together materials from FBI files and materials from archives around the country, including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the National Archives and a dozen university special collection libraries, to tell how the nation used a unique broadcast genre in a time of national crisis. Readers in the era of the current World Trade Center terrorism crisis will be particularly interested to read about censorship, scapegoating, and the government's role in disseminating propaganda and other issues that have once again… (more)
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Words at War describes how 17 radio dramatists and their actors fought a war of words against fascism abroad and injustice at home. Beginning in the late 1930s, the commercial networks, private agencies, and the government cooperated with radio dramatists to produce plays to alert Americans to the Nazi threat. They also used radio to stimulate morale. They showed how Americans could support the fight against fascism even if it meant just having a "victory garden." Simultaneously as they worked on the war effort, many radio writers and actors advanced a progressive agenda to fight the enemy within: racism, poverty, and other social ills. When the war ended, many of these people paid for their idealism by suffering blacklisting. Veterans' groups, the FBI, right-wing politicians, and other reactionaries mounted an assault on them to drive them out of their professions. This book discusses that partly successful effort and the response of the radio personalities involved. This book discusses commercial drama series such as The Man Behind the Gun, network sustained shows such as those of Norman Corwin, and government-produced programs such as the Uncle Sam series. The book is largely based on the author's interviews with Norman Corwin, Arthur Miller, Pete Seeger, Arthur Laurents, Art Carney and dozens of others associated with radio during its Golden Age. It also discusses public reaction to these broadcasts and the issue of blacklisting. Words at War weaves together materials from FBI files and materials from archives around the country, including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the National Archives and a dozen university special collection libraries, to tell how the nation used a unique broadcast genre in a time of national crisis. Readers in the era of the current World Trade Center terrorism crisis will be particularly interested to read about censorship, scapegoating, and the government's role in disseminating propaganda and other issues that have once again

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