Red Star Over Hollywood by Ronald and Allis Radosh is one of the books of the year, a lucid history of the Communist Party in Hollywood through the period of the blacklist. The book’s appendix by itself provides a useful guide to the mythological portrayal of the blacklist era in films such as “Guilty By Suspicion” and “The Front.” The New York Times Book Review carried a disappointing review by Stefan Kanfer, a writer whom I admire greatly.
Today the New Republic has posted a review by the estimable Martin Peretz that does justice to the book: “Widely red.” Here is the conclusion, but do read the whole thing:
[W]hat has all this to do with the fate of the American left or American liberalism? Any movement that does not own up to its past hobbles its future. These flanks are still enchanted with the suicidal heroism of the self-deluded Hollywood communists. This twisted syndrome did not stop with apologetics and excuses for Stalinism. It continues with the tortured explanations and barely disguised extenuations for the Muslim terror war against democratic and civil society. The Radoshes have written a wise, honest, and perceptive book.
It should be noted that the Radoshes’ important book is in a sense the fruition of the revisionist history that then-New York Times art critic Hilton Kramer first sketched in his brilliant 1976 article “The Blacklist & the Cold War,” reprinted in Kramer’s collection of essays The Twilight of the Intellectuals: Culture and Politics in the Era of the Cold War. K.L. Billingsley also explored the themes pursued by the Radoshes in his 1998 book Hollywood Party.