From Publishers Weekly
Barzman arrived in Hollywood from Radcliffe in 1941, a good-looking 21-year-old who wanted to be a writer or director, not an actress. She met Ben Barzman at a party for Hollywood "progressives"; before long, they were in the Communist Party together. Ben stayed focused on his career of script writing. Norma, especially after they married, made do with anything, mainly writing for Hearst's Examiner. By 1944, they knew they were both under surveillance; by 1949, they realized they had to leave the country or face HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) and jail for refusing to inform. They settled in Paris, their base for nearly 20 years. Even though Ben subscribed to leftist ideals about equality, his wife's career made him uncomfortable, so from 1955 on, Norma made babies, had affairs and researched movie ideas for Ben. From her stories-dealing with the likes of Picasso, Sophia Loren, Peter Sellers, Anthony Quinn and Ingrid Bergman-it seems the life of a Cold War expatriate was more attractive than anything America was offering. Still, blacklisted men like Ben and his sometime collaborator Joseph Losey "hugged their bitterness," while the women just adapted. Visiting the Soviet Union and watching the Communist betrayal of May 1968 in France were profoundly disillusioning, but Norma found new hope stateside in the '70s amid women's liberation and the push to restore the reputations of the blacklisted Hollywood artists. Her unique, absorbing and richly detailed memoir is a contribution to both, restoring women to the history of this period and documenting the bravery with which some people stood by their ideals.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
She wouldn't name names then, but she does now. Blacklisted along with her husband, Ben, during McCarthy's Hollywood witch hunts, Barzman has written an explicit memoir of their HUAC-inposed European exile that reads like a "who's who" of the entertainment community during its most controversial and creatively challenging decades. Thwarted by her specific situation and by society in general, Barzman would find inconsistent success in her attempts to forge an independent career, serving instead as her husband's muse, collaborator, and, frequently, adversary. As such, she was destined to sit at both the periphery and center of a core of defiant artists who defined a cultural revolution. From this unique and unorthodox vantage point, Barzman writes a tantalizing expose of political, philosophical, and personal upheaval as only an insider can. Whether recounting titillating behind-the-scenes exploits of entertainment icons or reflecting on the daunting struggles of expatriate Americans whose movements and motives were constantly scrutinized, Barzman brings a brooding, yet legitimate, perspective to a complex and confusing era in American history. Carol HaggasCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved