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Naming Names Paperback – Bargain Price, April 30, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang; Revised edition (April 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809001837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809001835
  • ASIN: B000F9SUX0
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,515,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“The moral issues raised by the Hollywood blacklist remain fearfully complex, and Victor Navasky confronts them with almost exquisite precision.” —The New York Times

“Navasky has done a splendid job bringing this enormous mass of facts to coherence and meaning, judging its ethical import so rigorously and fairly. Naming Names is must reading.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

From the Inside Flap

Winner of the National Book Award

"The moral issues raised by the Hollywood blacklist remain fearfully complex, and Victor Navasky confronts them with almost exquisite precision."
—The New York Times

"Navasky has done a splendid job bringing this enormous mass of facts to coherence and meaning, judging its ethical import so rigorously and fairly. Naming Names is must reading."
—Los Angeles Times Book Review

"His achievement is unarguable . . . [Navasky] establishes himself as that rare historian who can, like a novelist, illuminate the boundaries where power and conscience meet."
—Time

"The sort of book that ought to be required reading in the journalism classrooms of the nation as an example of how a writer can simultaneously convey a tough-minded point of view and be scrupulously fair."
—New York Daily News

"Navasky has written an important book about the McCarthy era . . . What makes [his] book striking is its fairness."
—The New York Times Book Review

"Remarkable . . . Navasky appears in these pages as a compassionate, if uncompromising, man . . . Thoughtful, instructive, and courageous."
—Newsweek

"One of the indispensable books not only for understanding a critical era in Hollywood and in American political life, but for coming to grips with the whole subject of American films and the role they have played in twentieth-century American culture."
—American Film

"Navasky has managed to function brilliantly as lawyer, historian, and psychologist all at once. Naming Names is a miracle of vividly responsible scholarship. At last I have a solid understanding of why so many important people behaved the way they did."
—Kurt Vonnegut

"I had anticipated the astoundingly comprehensive research; and need make only passing reference to the real voices—anguished, courageous, bitter, self-serving, defiant, pitiful, or burned—that sing through these pages. To me the greatness of this book has to do with the scrupulously patient, compassionate, but unerring moral analysis undertaken by the author like some sort of Virgil picking his way through a modern Hell. This isn’t a work of gossip, nor merely a cultural history, although it will be read as such: to me it is a text in moral instruction, a lesson in the enormous social consequences of private failures of spirit . . . Everyone will have to read Naming Names and take a position on it."
—E. L. Doctorow

"The first treatment of the subject I have seen which understands both the ambiguities and the political and ideological history that made that time such an ugly one in Hollywood."
—Frank Mankiewicz

"A great investigative reporter recreates one of the saddest eras of American life in all its complexities and drama. Naming Names is not so much a story of symbols or causes as of tormented human beings."
—Tom Wicker

"I read Naming Names with fascinated stupefaction. It is a unique, valuable, and dramatic description of a society without defenses against the destruction of its own best values. I hope everyone with even half a care for justice, civil rights, or simple individual eccentricity reading Naming Names."
—Nicholas von Hoffman

"The most intense moral argument that I, at least, have seen brought to bear in a very long time . . . Despite being addressed to the issues of the 1950s, it is current today . . . Navasky has given us a portrait of human beings under pressure which, in its fullness, is as lifelike as any Hollywood has ever given us. Anyone who thinks political choices are necessarily simple should read Naming Names."
—Mother Jones

"A landmark book . . . A stunning essay on the nature of understanding betrayal and the problem of forgiveness . . . Naming Names is both a wrenching book and one that counts."
—Village Voice

"Absolutely first-rate reporting, unsettling human drama, and shrewd meditation on political morality."
—Newsday

"Offers a timely opportunity to examine how the domestic cold war determined the way we live now . . . The issues that Navasky raises in this meticulously researched, scrupulously fair, brilliantly argued book are part of America’s unfinished business."
—Soho News


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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on May 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
When I bought this, I was uncertain that I could trust the perspective of the author: as publisher of The Nation (which I have written for) he is certifiably of the "left". I feared that he would take an obvious side, and hammer it into the ground.

What I found instead was an absolutely and scrupulously fair interpretation of what happened in the McCarthy era and why so many good and talented people betrayed their erstwhile friends. Navasky approaches it as the worst kind of personal moral dilemma: how can you save your career and not betray your deepest personal (and sometimes still political) allegiances.

The cast of characters comes predominently from the truly first rate, for example Jerome Robbins or Elia Kazan. Navassky shows how the struggled with their decision to name names, often convincing themselves that they had to do it to be an ethical person and good american, and then - to his great credit - he explores the shattering psychological repercussions that ensued. These actors in the drama are very human and caught in a dilemma so terrible that I pray I never will face a similar choice. Rather than seek a few weak bad guys, it is an indictment of an entire political system and policial era. Even if you are not convinced by his argument, the reader feels compelled to reflect on it. I certainly did.

Warmly recommended as a profound inquiry into moral choice, placed vividly in historical context. This is a masterpiece.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A.Armsworth on August 7, 2006
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This provides some "up close and personal" portaits of a number of persons directly affected by the HUAC hearings and the Hollywood Blacklist. Really interesting look at how individual lives were so drastically affected by this widespread witch hunt (and very relevant to the current state of our society!)
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Andrew M. Rouhier on February 8, 2008
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I was required to obtain a copy of this book for a class about the Hollywood Blacklist era, thus I expected it to be a boring near textbook like book. However, it is actually written very well and flows well enough to entice the reader to continue. If you have any interest in the Blacklist era, of which repercussions of it can still be seen today, I would read this book.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Emilie Debrigard on February 22, 2010
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I was looking for an account of the Hollywood Blacklist. This is the best one I found. It has to be read thoroughly--especially in the beginning, Navasky's writing is unpleasant to read, but it's worth getting through that to his excellent analysis and fair-minded conclusions. There is much here that I didn't get elsewhere, including the account of the therapist, Phil Cohen, who urged his patients to name names. There's also an interview with a survivor of the period who admits that there were economic reasons for talking: the movies were collapsing, and work was getting scarce.

While this will probably remain the standard work for years to come, it's not the only book which should be considered. Neil Gabler's "An Empire of their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood" gives the perspective of Hollywood management, which differed radically from that of blacklisted labor. Also, the Elia Kazan story isn't over. A recent account of Kazan's work with Shulberg revises the notion that "On the Waterfront" was Kazan's "excuse me" for naming names. Instead, it could have been about the frustration of the reformer priest who tried to expose mob control of the New York waterfront, only to be silenced by higher-ups in the church. It's called "On the Irish Waterfront" and is recommended.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jack D. Heacock on May 28, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My very first sighting of a television setwas in a store window in Dallas in 1953. The scene was of Senator Joseph McCarthy grilling someone under the aegis of the House Un-American Activities Committee. "Naming Names" was a very thorough review of the players, motivations, unending drum-beat of the right wing of American politics to weed out communism that ended up tarring and feathering those who simply disagreed with what the right wing was trying to sell. The details became tedious about 2/3rds of the way through the book, and I left it for other books.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Larry D. Hollis on July 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book provides probably more information than most people would ever need about the effects of the McCarthy hearings on Hollywood, especially on the people caught up in the whole mess: actors, scriptwriters, directors, producers, even spouses of these individuals. Navasky does a great job of integrating these people's stories into the exploration of the purposes and intents of the hearings, but more importantly he relates these stories into the effects on the personal lives: lost friendships, lost careers, lost trust, betrayal, regrets, self justifications. He thoroughly explores both sides of the issues: those who chose to name names, those who resisted, and the reasons behind the personal decisions individuals took in responding to the issue. The only problem I had was that you come away thinking only Hollywood personnel were asked to name names, and perhaps the bulk of the hearings were directed at the Hollywood community, but a little more information on others (scientists, union officials, academic figures) would have been nice to help put the Hollywood experience more in perspective in relation to the effects of McCarthyism. This edition also contains several interesting "Afterwords" going up into the Reagan years.
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