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When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics Kindle Edition

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Length: 235 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews


"When Hollywood Was Right offers a lesson for today of how an embattled, factionalized Republican Party came together to elect a principled and pragmatic conservative, Ronald Reagan, to the presidency. Plus this is a damn good read."
Barry Goldwater, Jr, former United States Congressman

"Hollywood wasn't always a stronghold of the political Left. Back in the days after World War II, many movie moguls and movie stars - Louis B. Mayer, Cecil B. DeMille, Walt Disney, John Wayne, George Murphy - worked to revitalize the Republican Party. Donald Critchlow tells the exciting story of how they did, and how they helped elect Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan president."
Michael Barone, Washington Examiner, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, and co-author, The Almanac of American Politics

"While liberal movie stars vociferously proclaim that the blacklisted Hollywood Ten were innocent of any wrongdoing, Donald T. Critchlow presents the opposite view starting from the Great Depression and ending with the presidential election of Ronald Reagan. Written judiciously with passion and verve, this volume should be standard reading ..."
Irwin F. Gellman, Franklin and Marshall College, and author of Secret Affairs, The Contender, and The President and the Apprentice

"Few people have more insightful things to say about modern politics than the historian Donald Critchlow. Now Critchlow has focused his keen political and historical skills on Hollywood. The result is a provocative, smart, original, and entertaining book that should be required reading for all students of American politics and popular culture."
Steven M. Gillon, Scholar-in-Residence, The History Channel

"Don Critchlow has done it again. When Hollywood Was Right is the most comprehensive and detailed account of an epic that is too often told in black and white cartoonish tones. Critchlow captures the paradoxes of how the left-right clashes of the mid-twentieth century affected Hollywood, in many cases for the better. This fine-grained narrative, brimming with new detail Critchlow has unearthed from unused archives, leaves us wondering what is being lost in today's almost monolithically leftist Hollywood."
Steven Hayward, Thomas Smith Distinguished Fellow, Ashland University

"This incisive, first-rate study is based on extensive archival research. When Hollywood Was Right masterfully tells how anticommunism drove film industry executives, directors, and stars, allied with business leaders, to remake the Republican Party in California after World War II. As Professor Donald T. Critchlow astutely argues, the result had national implications. These conservatives backed Richard Nixon and ultimately put one of their own, Ronald Reagan, in the White House."
William J. Rorabaugh, University of Washington, and author of The Real Making of the President: Kennedy, Nixon, and the 1960 Election

"Donald Critchlow's When Hollywood Was Right helps puncture the myth that Hollywood has always been an unopposed bastion of liberalism. Surveying Hollywood's political landscape from the 1930s to 1980, Critchlow deftly reveals how Republican movie stars, studio moguls, and Southern California business leaders worked together to rebuild their party and help launch a conservative revolution that transformed the shape of American politics."
Steven J. Ross, University of Southern California, and author of Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics

"The stories Critchlow tells are fascinating in their own right. From a broader perspective, they also help inform our understanding of the complicated pathways by which some major American institutions - the film industry, journalism, academia - have, over time, come to tilt further to the left (not uniformly, as the book makes clear), while other institutions - religion, law, corporate America and the GOP itself - have come to lean further to the right."
Neil Gross,

"The idea of an era in which Hollywood exerted a substantial influence in Republican politics seems almost science fictional ... When Hollywood Was Right offers an insightful examination of just such a strange proposition."

"Critchlow goes beyond the production sets and screenplays. He shows how Hollywood actually aided the electoral prospects of Republican presidential candidates Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon."
The Weekly Standard

Book Description

This book rediscovers how there once was a Hollywood Right. Using extensive new archival material, Donald Critchlow reveals how Hollywood Republicans remade America by successfully backing such candidates as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George Murphy. Readers will never think about Hollywood politics again in the same way.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2570 KB
  • Print Length: 235 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 4 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (October 21, 2013)
  • Publication Date: November 27, 2013
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00GA22HR6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #967,708 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By H. J. Schumacher on November 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
What a fun and interesting book! I picked up When Hollywood was Right because I am interested in what happened in Hollywood during this period and curious about the differences to today’s Hollywood crowd. I will admit that the cover caught my eye. It is a classic picture of Ronald Reagan – a man I admire and have fond memories of talking to while he was president. Copious documentation is an added bonus of the book. I value knowing the sources and appreciate the author did his research. I did not find the errors I read in one of the reviews posted here and I am assuming the published copy I have read is updated and corrected from any pre-released copies.

The first third of the book details the HUAC and its impact on Hollywood. Much has been written about HUAC and this period in American history. The declassification of the Venona project makes me read about this period with a different perspective and I appreciate how Critchlow takes a careful and well-documented approach.

I especially liked the chapter on Nixon and his connection to Hollywood. Having had the opportunity to meet and talk with him in his New York office after he resigned in disgrace, I found his connection to Hollywood enlightening when thinking back on how he spoke about Reagan. When asked about Reagan’s chances of beating Jimmy Carter he said that there was more to Reagan than the public realized and that the actor had huge potential to win if he could convince the American people he was serious. Critchlow’s chapter was quite interesting and provided good context for why Nixon made those comments to me.

Finally, I never realized the extent of the clash between Reagan and Goldwater over the Panama Canal treaty.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Steven Lee on December 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When Hollywood was Right is a fascinating read. Growing up in Southern California, I’ve always enjoyed learning about the history of the entertainment industry. Critchlow provides great insight and detail about HUAC and the Venona project. Even after studying US History as an undergrad, I was amazed to find out that so many interesting details about the era had been left out of standard coursework on the subject. Any fan of history, the entertainment industry, or the post-war period will have a great time reading and learning more about When Hollywood was Right.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S.Tu on November 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very interesting perspective; Dr. Critchlow explores facets of the Hollywood of yesteryear and, with groundbreaking new research, reveals that Hollywood has not always been the hotbed of progressive liberalism that exists today. Starting in the 1930s, we follow familiar celebrities and businessmen, and how they reshaped American politics.The book is very well written, and from the first page it will grab your attention; from the average political tinkerer,all the way to doctorate holders (whether you lean right OR left)! I personally enjoyed learning about the Goldwater-Reagan era, and as a younger reader I was fascinated by how the author illustrated the journey Ronald Reagan made from film, to politics, and eventually the white house. I strongly recommend this book and will be reading more from this author!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Scott T. Rivers VINE VOICE on February 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Author Donald T. Critchlow's fascinating account of Hollywood's right-wing history is regrettably marred by factual errors, misspellings and index omissions. For example, Francis X. Bushman was a famous silent-film actor — not a director; there is no producer named "Melvin Leroy"; and, despite being mentioned several times, "Charleton" Heston never appears in the index. "When Hollywood Was Right" cries out for an experienced fact-checker, editor and proofreader. The sections devoted to Reagan and Nixon are well worth reading, but such important academia deserves a more polished presentation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Judith E. Hanhisalo on March 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a scholarly and well documented book about California politics and the Republican Party from the 1930s to the election of Ronald Reagan as President in 1980. Mr. Crichlow doesn't take a stand on the issues himself, making the book refreshingly unbiased. The book covers elections, organizations, individuals and processes. The writing is clear and easy to read with no sign of academic obfuscation. Anyone interested in twentieth century politics should read this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Garvinstomp VINE VOICE on February 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
First off, it's important to note that this book is a book about politics which is far different than a political book. This is, for all intents and purposes, a history book documenting a political movement as opposed to being a book advocating for a particular ideology. Hopefully people will give this a chance and review it as such instead of just assuming that it's a conservative book and give it that u-shaped review curve with all 5-star and 1-star reviews. Good. Now that that's out to the way. . .

While Hollywood is primarily a very left-leaning town in terms of its political ideology, it wasn't always the case. What Critchlow successfully does is guide us through the journey the Republican/conservative ranks took through Hollywood from its inception, through FDR, the rise of Nixon and Goldwater, and the ultimate election of one of Hollywood's own, Ronald Reagan. It's a fantastic journey with all the requisite twists and turns for a story centered on Tinseltown.

After giving us a glimpse of the characters and a little background, the stage is set by the rise of FDR and democrats nationwide and the Hollywood blacklist. These two events put into a motion a series of events that would put republicans on the defensive. While Critchlow's style isn't as riveting as other historians, it is more than adequate to get through the book.

The book is well researched and Critchlow provides a wealth of footnotes. My biggest issue with the book is that it feels incomplete. At just over 200 pages there was plenty of room to bring the story up to present day. Hollywood's politics are as on display today as they've ever been, with the right leaning members of Hollywood forced to meet in private with their own group, The Friends of Abe, for fear of being blacklisted.
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