Naming Names

Naming Names

Victor S. Navasky

Language: English

Pages: 528

ISBN: 0809001837

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

With a New Afterword by the Author

"An astonishing work concerning personal honor and dishonor, shame and shamelessness. A book of stunning insights and suspense." ―Studs Terkel

Half a century later, the investigation of Hollywood radicals by the House Committee on Un-American Activities still haunts the public conscience. Naming Names, reissued here with a new afterword by the author, is the definitive account of the hearings, a National Book Award winner widely hailed as a classic. Victor S. Navasky adroitly dissects the motivations for the investigation and offers a poignant analysis of its consequences. Focusing on the movie-studio workers who avoided blacklists only by naming names at the hearings, he explores the terrifying dilemmas of those who informed and the tragedies of those who were informed on. Drawing on interviews with more than 150 people called to testify―among them Elia Kazan, Ring Lardner Jr., and Arthur Miller―Naming Names presents a compelling portrait of how the blacklists operated with such chilling efficiency.

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someone cooperated, there was tremendous anguish because it wasn’t considered a very pleasant or even, I would have to say, a decent thing. The alternatives were to get stuck with something. In many cases, the cooperative witnesses really weren’t in the Party anymore; they were out. They didn’t feel like standing up as the people who were still in felt they had to do. And rightfully. The Party is really a religious operation, and if you have religion it’s fine to suffer for it, and if you don’t,

Rossen was about fourteen when his father returned to Washington for his second testimony. “That was a big crisis, and he said he wanted some help. He wanted to know what I would do if I had this situation. It killed him not to work. He was torn between his desire to work and his desire not to talk, and he didn’t know what to do. What I think he wanted to know was, what would I think of him if he talked? He didn’t say it in that way, though. Then he explained to me the politics of it—how the

possibility of true community polluted by the advent of symbolic betrayal and literal collaboration. Morality, we are told, is a voice of conscience from within in harmony with a voice of authority from without. We have seen what happens when the citizen delegates his conscience to the state. Afterword WHEN I TURNED IN THE manuscript for Naming Names, I felt I had stopped, rather than finished. I had been reading and interviewing for eight years, but there were more people to see,

Evening Post and selected as a Book-of-the-Month, Chambers began to seem respectable, and so, by that time, did the informer as a social type. By their example, the espionage-exposers gave informing a good name, and undoubtedly the prestige that was conferred on them by the culture was not lost on those ex-Communists with no espionage to expose but nevertheless a subpoena to contend with. In addition, their revelations lent a tone of urgency to the political situation, which was invoked by others

experience as a child. Her mother had left her father, and Betty had had to help take care of her younger brother.”* Without presuming to know why she did what she did, or what Phil Cohen did or did not say to Elizabeth Wilson, who prefers not to talk about it, one notes that in September 1951 she appeared as a cooperative witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee.28 The mix of CP secrecy, the mystique of secrecy, and Cohen’s peculiar style undoubtedly contributed to the feeling

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